House Committee Unanimously Approves Energy Efficiency for Schools Act

In a rare display of bipartisanship, earlier this week the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce unanimously approved the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (H.R.4092). This bill would help improve energy efficiency in schools by creating an online clearinghouse to disseminate information to schools on federal programs and financing mechanisms that may be used to help initiate, develop, and finance energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy retrofitting projects in schools. Because these efficiency projects may involve the HVAC&R systems in schools, this bill could also help improve the indoor air quality in schools, and thus result in better learning environments and reduced risks of health concerns such as asthma and airborne infectious diseases.

The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act is a bipartisan bill that was introduced by Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and is supported by over 39 other Representatives, including Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). ASHRAE and a large number of other organizations support this bill and have been active in promoting it on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year the bill’s Senate counterpart was incorporated into the new version of Shaheen-Portman (S.2262), which is considered to be the most prominent piece of Congressional energy efficiency legislation in seven years.

“This common-sense legislation will ensure that schools can more easily take advantage of energy-efficiency programs,” said Representative Cartwright. “The bill is a strategic and cost-saving investment to relieve the fiscal pressure felt by schools across the country while bringing us closer to energy security.”

“According to Energy Star, school districts spend billions on their energy bills each year, approximately $6 billion, second only to personnel costs,” continued Cartwright. “Yet, an estimated 14 million American children attend deteriorating public schools. According to a Department of Education survey, 43 percent of schools indicated that the poor condition of their facilities interferes with the delivery of instruction. Energy expenses are one of the few costs that can be reduced while at the same time improving classroom instruction.”

At present, the outlook of this bill is positive, as it is a likely candidate for passage when the House considers its next package of energy bills, which is expected later this year.

To view video highlights of the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act’s consideration in the Energy & Commerce Committee, including summary statements, please click here. For full information on the Energy & Commerce Committee’s consideration of this bill, click here