Last evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Peter Welch's bipartisan legislation to encourage schools administrators to make cost-saving energy efficiency upgrades. The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, modeled after Vermont's school-based energy efficiency efforts, is the second Welch-authored energy efficiency bill to pass the House this year.
"I am pleased the House is taking another bipartisan step in support of energy efficiency. This bill will save taxpayers money and improve the environment by cutting energy costs in local schools. And it will create jobs through the use of American-made energy efficiency products," said Rep. Welch. "Energy efficiency is a practical idea that has brought Democrats and Republicans together in Congress to achieve real progress for the American people."
The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (H.R. 4092), sponsored by Welch and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), will facilitate energy efficiency improvements at elementary and secondary schools across the country. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the nation's 17,450 K-12 school districts spend more than $6 billion annually on energy, more than is spent on computers and textbooks combined. Welch's bill creates a DOE information clearinghouse on assistance for schools to develop and implement energy efficiency and distributed generation projects. Cutting school energy bills will reduce pressure on property tax payers who fund local schools across the country.
Vermont's leadership on school energy efficiency has been spearheaded by a collaboration between Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Superintendents Association's School Energy Management Program. Over the last 13 years, this partnership has led to 1,200 energy efficiency projects at 350 schools across the state, delivering $43 million in energy savings. Project Green School is focused on benchmarking the energy use of all elementary and secondary public schools. Vermont is on track to be the first state in the country to achieve energy benchmarking for all public schools.
Welch's legislation is endorsed by the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and the U.S. Green Building Council. It was approved by voice vote.