White House wants to tap into more than $5B to make schools greener

School bus stock photo.
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

In order to make U.S. schools greener, the Biden-Harris administration is looking to tap into more than $5 billion in funding for electric buses, energy upgrades and more.

An announcement for the Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure said the administration aims to “upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs.”

According to a fact sheet released earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy helped build new online resources to help school districts connect to the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The first tranche of this funding is expected to become available in the coming months, the White House said in March.

The White House said the EPA “is awarding $17 million to fund electric zero-emission and low-emission school buses.”

Old diesel school buses in underserved communities are expected to be replaced with new, zero-emission electric buses thanks to $7 million in American Rescue Plan funding. Another $10 million is being awarded to replace old diesel school buses with new cleaner buses through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act School Bus Rebate Program.

For other projects that help students safely walk and bike to school, the Department of Transportation provided state and local governments with new guidance to access $90 billion in available federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs.

A $500 million grant program from the Department of Energy through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law aims to make public schools more energy efficient as well.

“This new program will lower energy costs, improve air quality, and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning,” said the White House.

American Rescue Plan funds also include $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, including school improvements to ventilation and building energy systems. So far, schools are already planning to spend $15 billion of these funds to address facilities issues such as improving indoor air quality.

School improvements and job opportunities align with the Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative, which includes efforts to create safe and healthy school environments through building retrofits, solarization and more.

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