Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Green Schools Appropriations Pass House

May 14 the House of Representatives passed HR 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. Replacing appropriations cut from the stimulus legislation in the Senate, the bill appropriates $6.4 billion for modernization, renovation and repairs to public school buildings to improve health, safety and energy efficiency. The funds may not be used for building new schools. The money may be used for repairs and upgrades to roofs, HVAC, fire, health, life safety and seismic code requirements, ADA accessibility, asbestos, lead, PBC mold and mildew abatement, noise reduction, reducing consumption of coal, electricity, natural gas, oil or water, post consumer recycled materials on playground equipment, and a few other esoteric "green" modernizations.

There is also a separate appropriation of $600 million over six years for rebuilding schools damaged by hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

Funds may not be used to pay maintenance costs, or for construction of any athletic facility charging admission to the general public. "Buy American" requirements for iron, steel, and manufactured goods are included in the bill, along with contracting preference requirements for local, small business, minority, women and veteran owned contractors. In 2010, 50% of any grant must be used for green construction, with the percentage increasing ten percent a year up to 100% in 2015. Finally, the bill prohibits earmarking of any of the funds.

It will be most interesting to see how this legislation fares in the Senate, which cut these very appropriations from the stimulus bill.
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