Design and Construction, Energy Management and Lighting, Green Building, Heating and Cooling, Sustainability/Business Continuity

DOE Awards Public Schools $178 Million for Energy Improvements

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the first round of selectees for the Renew America’s Schools grant program, a competitive award that will support the implementation of energy improvements in public K-12 schools across the country.

Following “unprecedented” demand for the funding, the DOE chose 24 Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in 22 states to share approximately $178 million. The DOE said this investment will directly benefit about 74,000 students and 5,000 teachers in 97 school buildings across America, enabling them to pursue diverse projects to lower energy costs, lower emissions, and create healthier, safer, and more supportive learning environments in their schools.

According to the DOE, public schools make up the second-largest sector of American infrastructure after transportation, and over half of LEAs need to update or replace multiple building systems or features in their facilities.

LEAs from 48 states and two territories submitted over 1,000 concept papers, totaling nearly $5.5 billion in requests. In response to the high demand and overwhelming evidence of public need, the DOE more than doubled the funding for Round 1 of the competition from $80 million to $178 million.

Round 1 Winners

Applicants were required to demonstrate significant technical merit and identify community benefits, such as workforce development. Ultimately, the DOE selected the following 24 LEAs:

  • Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, VA 
  • Austin Independent School District, Austin, TX 
  • Baltimore County Public Schools, Windsor Mill, MD 
  • Bridgeport Public Schools (in partnership with University of Connecticut), Bridgeport, CT 
  • Cass Lake-Bena Public Schools (in partnership with Region Five Development Commission), Cass Lake, MN 
  • Charlo School District, Charlo, MT 
  • Choctaw County School District, Weir, MS 
  • Clinton School District, Clinton, AR 
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Fairbanks, AK 
  • Greenup County School District, Greenup, KY 
  • Jefferson County School District, Birmingham, AL 
  • Kane County School District, Kanab, UT 
  • Matchbook Learning Centers, Indianapolis, IN 
  • Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN 
  • Natick Public Schools, Natick, MA 
  • North Wasco County School District 21, Mosier, OR 
  • Nottoway County Public Schools, Blackstone, VA 
  • Porterville Unified School District, Porterville, CA 
  • St. Maries School District #41, Saint Maries, ID 
  • Warner Public Schools Oklahoma, Warner, OK 
  • White River School District 47-1, White River, SD 
  • William Penn School District, Yeadon, PA 
  • Williamsfield Schools (CUSD #210) and 19 LEAs, Williamsfield, IL 
  • Winnett Public School District #1, Winnett, MT

Most of the winning LEAs are planning to upgrade their HVAC systems (88%), lighting (71%), and building envelope (58%), as well as either update or install controls (54%). Many of the LEAs are installing innovative technology packages, including solar panels and batteries (42%), and alternative-fuel vehicle infrastructure (13%).

All have predicted benefits to their students, staff, and families—including health benefits from improved indoor air quality, improved thermal comfort, and better lighting; and financial benefits from reduced energy expenditures. 

The Renew America’s Schools grant is part of the $500 million Renew America’s Schools program, funded by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The DOE anticipates releasing a second round of funding in spring 2024.

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