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DOE Offers Public Schools $180M for Clean Energy Upgrades

Mar 20, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has opened applications for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize, which will award $180 million for clean energy upgrades at public K-12 schools to lower costs and improve indoor air quality. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this new round of funding builds on $178 million in grants awarded in 2023.

“There’s nothing more critical than investing in the health and education of our nation’s children,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This program’s first round of funding saw an unprecedented influx of applications, requesting billions in school infrastructure upgrades. The Biden-Harris administration has doubled down on its commitment to students across the country, allocating more resources both from this program and across the Department of Energy.”

Project Benefits

The 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize will invest in school facilities that demonstrate the need for both energy improvements and financing, with a focus on schools that serve disadvantaged communities, including those with a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, and/or which qualify as rural.

Eligible improvements—like new HVAC and ventilation systems, building envelope and lighting projects, alternative fuel (such as electric) vehicles and infrastructure, and renewable energy technologies—will improve energy performance and/or lead to improvements in student, educator, and staff health.

By reducing energy use, these investments can reduce building operating costs—the second highest operational expense for schools. The savings can be reinvested in programs like afterschool, summer learning, and other educational opportunities and resources for students.

At the same time, learning environments that have been enhanced with better indoor air quality, lighting, and other upgrades supported by the DOE’s investments can boost student health outcomes and improve overall well-being and academic performance.

Requirements

Competitive proposals will implement energy assessments and building improvement projects across a portfolio of 10 or more school facilities. A portfolio may be composed of school facilities from one or more districts. Competitors submitting proposals should be organizations or teams with the capacity to aggregate and manage projects across a portfolio.

During Phase 1, competitors will build teams and curate lists of school facilities that demonstrate both need and eligibility for investment. Each Phase 1 winner will earn a cash prize of $300,000 and move on to Phases 2 and 3, during which they will enter and execute a Cooperative Agreement with the DOE. Awards made in the latter phases will vary by portfolio size but could range from $7.5 million to $15 million. The DOE will issue the largest awards to portfolios serving 20 or more school facilities, offering a total of $15,300,000 to winners in this category for completing all three phases.

According to the DOE, the program’s new “prize-to-cooperative-agreement funding mechanism” streamlines the application process, lowering barriers to entry for school districts and increasing the accessibility of federal funds. It also promotes partnerships between school districts and industry experts, encouraging the formation of stakeholder support networks that can provide districts earlier, more targeted assistance, help them build internal expertise, and provide pathways to additional financing.

The DOE will prioritize applications that demonstrate replicable partnership models, enhance the impact of federal funds, allow federal dollars to make their way into more school communities, and stimulate further investments in the K-12 energy sector.

Applications are due on June 13 at 5 p.m. ET. More information is available here.

The post DOE Offers Public Schools $180M for Clean Energy Upgrades appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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