In September of 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the allocation of $59 million to fund the Clean Green Schools Initiative. The program aims to advance clean energy efficiency solutions and clean energy to improve indoor air quality and reduce carbon emissions for schools designated as “high-need” by the New York State Education Department or schools located in disadvantaged communities.
The initiative, to be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), offers a unique opportunity for designated underserved schools to improve their energy systems. In doing so, eligible schools will receive technical, financial, and human resource support to evaluate, plan for, and implement energy efficient solutions. In the long run, this will improve school environments and save money.
The program is structured in two tracks – Track I for planning, Track II for installation.
The planning track provides funding for the evaluation, planning, and facilitation of energy reduction projects, clean energy projects, and indoor air quality projects. Schools may use Track I funding for professional services such as energy studies, on-site energy managers, and fiscal advisors. The services must be aimed at helping schools evaluate, plan and facilitate comprehensive energy reduction, decarbonization, environmental sustainability, and indoor air quality projects. Track I funding may also be used towards planning a project associated with Track II. Participation in Track I is not a requirement for eligibility for Track II.
Track II funding serves to implement construction projects to improve the environmental sustainability and decarbonization of school buildings. Examples of appropriate construction projects are: converting to central heating or cooling plants to clean green energy technology, electrification of building systems, and transitions to low-carbon fuels.
Track II is more competitive and requires a more robust proposal. NYSERDA has created proposal templates as guidance when schools apply.
Public school districts may qualify for eligibility to receive funding under the initiative. The school district must either be designated as high-need by NYSED or be located in a disadvantaged community.
Most schools know if they are designated “high-need” but this is done by NYSED using the need/resource capacity index. NYSERDA published a comprehensive list of school districts and buildings eligible for funding.
Track I has an open enrollment period through Dec. 30, 2025. Track II has an application deadline of July 27, 2022, at 3 p.m.
If you have any questions about the application process or anything regarding the initiative, please contact the Harris Beach attorney with whom you usually work.
Harris Beach Summer Associate Andrea Rojas co-authored this legal alert.
This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.
Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.