HOLT'S GREEN SCHOOLS' INITIATIVE INCLUDED IN EDUCATION AND LABOR COMMITTEE-PASSED SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BILL
Initiative Will Provide Schools with Assistance to Become Energy Efficient
A bill passed today in the House Committee on Education and Labor authorizing $6.4 billion over five years for school construction includes funding to help schools become more energy efficient. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), a member of the Committee, included an initiative in the 21st Century High-Performing Public School Facilities Act to provide schools with federal funding to make energy efficient upgrades. Energy bills are the second-highest operating expenditure for schools after personnel costs, with the annual spending by schools on energy increasing to $8 billion in 2007. The bill awaits approval in the full House of Representatives.
"It is important that this bill requires that school improvements and modernizations be undertaken in an environmentally friendly and energy efficient," Holt said. "Much of the vast expenses schools spend on energy is unnecessary. More efficient use of energy could cut costs by 20 to 25 percent. Making those efficiency changes will enable school districts to save money that could instead be used to hire new teachers or purchase new textbooks."
As was written in Holt's School Building Enhancement Act, the bill provides for state educational agencies to develop a school energy efficiency quality plan and to provide technical assistance to local education agencies for energy efficient school building design, construction, and renovation.
The 21st Century High-Performing Public School Facilities Act requires that funds be used for projects that meet one of three widely recognized green building standards: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Energy Star, or Collaborative for High Performance Schools. The bill allows states to use funds to develop a database of public school facilities in the state and their energy use.
At Holt's request, the bill also requires states to measure and report on the carbon footprint of each school. Schools will be able to set goals for reducing their greenhouse gasses along with their energy use with the eventual goal of becoming carbon neutral. Today, buildings are responsible for over one third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Holt also included language in the legislation to ensure that veteran-owned businesses receive contracting preference for school construction, as is currently the case for small, minority, and women-owned businesses.
"As the war in Iraq continues to swell the veteran population, it is our duty to help to ensure that returning soldiers have jobs to come home to," Holt added.
A video of Rep. Holt's remarks at the Education and Labor Committee markup can be viewed at http://holt.house.gov/GreenSchoolsMarkup.shtml.