On April 4, 2022, Vice President Kamala D. Harris announced The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure. During the course of her remarks, the Vice President discussed a fact sheet outlining the multifaceted school retrofit and renovation investment program. The fact sheet outlines short and longer-term goals to improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), reduce energy costs and prioritize schools most in need.
The Administration is supporting states, school districts, and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs—like repairing, upgrading, or replacing of ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning. Additionally, the Department of Treasury will soon release additional information to help school districts understand how they can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for a range of school facility improvements, including improving air quality and energy efficiency.
SMACNA will be monitoring the Department of Treasury for the release of further information regarding the access of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
In addition, the Fact Sheet makes available a new online resources toolkit to help school districts access funding. The toolkit starts with Indoor Air Quality and contains a lot of useful content for school operators and boards to consider about improving air quality, energy efficiency, and more.
Billions of dollars in grants, loans and financing have been approved and are available for a variety of programs targeting schools and building operators and owners to use immediately.
- For the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, the funds from the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law can be used to supplement investments in ventilation and IAQ improvements in public settings.
- For school infrastructure upgrades, a $500 million grant program has been established to help schools fund IAQ and energy efficiency retrofit projects for schools of all sizes with special consideration of underserved community schools needing extensive HVAC, lighting, and mechanical upgrades.
- DOE is also accelerating a range of grants, technical assistance, and lending to support schools along each step of the school improvement process.
Some of the government programs that will be lending direct support include:
- Better Buildings Challenge and its K-12 Sector partnerships.
- DOE’s new tool—eProject eXpress—that can support state and local governments and K-12 schools in project management for energy saving performance contracts, and
- Leverage financing to maximize impact; and
- DOE’s Loan Programs Office Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Solicitation that can be accessed by schools to provide up to $3 billion in loan guarantees for retrofit projects.
SMACNA will be developing new sections on its website that provide resources and helpful information for contractors to use or reference in client meetings. These resources will focus on the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, the Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure programs, and several efficiency tax incentives.
SMACNA will help layout specific details of school retrofit resources contractors can use when meeting with schools, building operators and real estate owners, as well as updating contractors on important information related to the programs. Look for more information in the coming weeks at SMACNA.org.