May 30, 2024

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FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Hosts First-Ever White House Summit for Sustainable and Healthy Schools

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Hosts First-Ever White House Summit for Sustainable and Healthy Schools
A Proclamation on National Small Business Week, 2024

President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda is providing unprecedented resources for K-12 schools to invest in healthier, more sustainable buildings and infrastructure—from removing lead pipes, to installing clean, reliable solar energy, to purchasing electric school buses. Schools across the country are putting these funds to use to cut harmful air pollution, including climate pollution, and […]

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President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda is providing unprecedented resources for K-12 schools to invest in healthier, more sustainable buildings and infrastructure—from removing lead pipes, to installing clean, reliable solar energy, to purchasing electric school buses. Schools across the country are putting these funds to use to cut harmful air pollution, including climate pollution, and invest in equitable, healthy, resilient, and sustainable schools. To ensure that schools have access to the many resources and technical assistance available to them through the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Administration is today hosting the first-ever White House Summit for Sustainable and Healthy K-12 School Buildings and Grounds.
 
Over 90 students, teachers, advocates, school administrators, facilities and grounds experts, and labor leaders will come together at the White House alongside the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss deployment of the unprecedented levels of federal funding available for school infrastructure, clean energy, and healthy schools. The White House Summit will highlight stories from schools across America where communities are taking action to create more sustainable buildings and grounds that tackle the climate crisis, improve learning, and protect children’s health. The Summit will also underscore the opportunities for good-paying, union jobs—including jobs that don’t require a college degree—made available by the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic clean energy agenda. Participants will also have the opportunity to join an in-person workshop on the new “direct pay” provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, which are helping schools to directly access the benefits of clean energy tax credits for the first time ever.
 
Promoting Efficient and Healthy Schools
Alongside the Summit, the Biden-Harris Administration is releasing the 2024 White House Toolkit for Sustainable and Healthy K-12 Schools. Designed for use by schools, the toolkit provides an overview of school infrastructure funding, programs, and technical assistance made available by the Biden-Harris Administration to support schools, teachers, and students in achieving energy efficiency, resilience to extreme weather, and cleaner air, water, and transportation. These include programs like the Department of Energy’s Renew America’s Schools Prize, which is providing $500 million to make energy efficiency, clean energy, and clean vehicles accessible for schools across the country—and is open for applications now. It also includes EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which is providing $5 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace polluting diesel school buses with zero- and low-emissions models. The program has already funded over 5,000 clean school buses, providing cleaner air for communities and protecting children from asthma.
 
These programs also advance President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, clean transit, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.
 
Recognizing Climate Leaders in Schools Across America
Today the U.S. Department of Energy is also announcing honorees for its Efficient and Healthy Schools Program. This program recognizes and assists school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements—like Livonia Public Schools in Michigan, which was honored for optimizing their operations to improve building performance. Others, like Broward County Public Schools in Florida, received recognition for implementing efficient and effective HVAC retrofits and other energy-saving measures, while Canajoharie Central School District in New York was honored for developing a comprehensive energy plan. These improvements will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health in schools across the country.
 
To date, 202 school districts in 45 states have joined the program, representing over 5 million students in over 8,400 individual schools—70% of which qualify for Title 1 federal funding on the basis of serving a high percentage of low-income students. The full list of 2024 U.S. Department of Energy Efficient and Healthy Schools Honorees can be found hereAdditionally, earlier today U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions, and one early learning center from 24 states are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education. Over the past decade, the award has recognized the work of over 750 schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions across 47 states. Learn more about the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Honorees here.
 
Today’s Summit and announcements build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions to build healthier, more sustainable schools:

  • Direct Pay for Clean Energy.  In March, the Treasury Department finalized rules for direct pay (officially known as “elective pay”) of certain tax credits. By authorizing direct pay, the Inflation Reduction Act for the first time makes tax-exempt entities, including schools, eligible to access clean energy tax credits and to fully participate in building and owning new clean energy projects. Schools can leverage these tax credits for clean energy investments such as solar, wind, geothermal, and storage, as well as for purchasing clean school buses and other clean vehicles. For example:
    • Manchester Public Schools (CT) anticipates receiving $2.5 million in tax credits from the IRS for installing ground source heat pumps and solar panels at Bowers Elementary School in 2023.
    • Seattle Public Schools (WA) anticipates receiving $7.5 million in tax credits from the IRS for installing ground source heat pumps and solar panels at 3 elementary schools in 2023.
    • Williamsfield Schools (IL) anticipates receiving $100,000 in tax credits from the IRS for 7 Electric School Buses funded through the EPA Clean School Bus rebates and 11 Electric Vehicle charging stations that were put into service in 2023.
       
  • Clean School Buses. In January, EPA preliminarily selected 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion in funding under the 2023 Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. Selected applicants will purchase over 2,700 clean school buses in 280 school districts, serving over 7 million students across 37 states. To date, the EPA Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide. EPA anticipates announcing the awards for the 2023 Clean School Bus Program Rebates Competition in May 2024.
     
  • Replacing Lead Pipes for Clean Drinking Water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $15 billion toward President Biden’s commitment to replace every toxic lead pipe in the country within a decade, protecting children and schools from lead exposure that can cause irreversible harm to cognitive development and hamper children’s learning. In February, Vice President Harris traveled to Pittsburgh to announce $5.8 billion for clean water projects nationwide, including lead pipe replacement. Earlier this year, EPA announced $58 million in 2024 grant funding to protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and childcare facilities.
     
  • Investing in Disadvantaged Communities and Environmental Justice. EPA is currently accepting applications for $2 billion in Community Change Grants that can be used by schools to reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and other environmental and climate justice activities that benefit disadvantaged communities, such as facility improvements that improve air quality. Dedicated technical assistance is available to eligible applicants for application support, project planning, and more.
     
  • Improving Indoor Air Quality.  Later this year, EPA will also award $32 million in grant funding to up to 6 organizations that will help K-12 schools in low-income, disadvantaged, and Tribal communities across the country develop and implement comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) management plans that address air pollution and improve energy efficiency of school facilities.
     
  • Launching the 2024 Renew America’s School Prize. In March, DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Programs launched its second round of funding under the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize, a $180 million investment to support improvements like HVAC upgrades, renewable energy installations, lighting, alternative-fuel vehicle infrastructure, and more in K-12 public schools. In particular, the prize focuses on schools that serve disadvantaged communities. Submissions for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize are due by June 13. This prize builds on the first round of funding, which awarded $178 million in 2023 to over 90 school facilities across the country, impacting approximately 74,000 students and 5,000 teachers.
     
  • Supporting America’s School Infrastructure. In November, the Department of Education awarded over $40 million in funding to eight Supporting America’s School Infrastructure (SASI) state grantees to conduct school facility needs assessments in high-need school districts, hire new staff, and develop or improve public school infrastructure data systems, among other actions.

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/04/26/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-hosts-first-ever-white-house-summit-for-sustainable-and-healthy-schools/

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