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Environment America has a playbook for transforming public schools to tackle climate change

  • According to the advocacy group, Environment America, parents looking for ways to fight global warming should make the school board their first stop.

  • New money from the federal government has slashed the cost of installing renewable energy and electrifying school transportation

  • These installations are good for students' health and could be a big contributor to overall community resiliency against climate change

  • Check out the Green Schools Guide from Environment America for more information

As back-to-school season comes around again, folks looking for ways to address global warming in their communities should head to their local school board.

That's the advice from Environment America, the environmental advocacy arm of the non-profit Public Interest Network.

There are millions of dollars in funding available to local schools to upgrade their heating and cooling, switch to electric buses, and install renewable energy on school grounds thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.

And the new Green Schools Guide gives parents, teachers, and administrators, a guidebook on how they can take advantage of the federal largesse.

Not only are these upgrades good for the pocketbook and expenditures for local school districts, they're also much, much better for kids' health, according to Environment America advocates.

“Solar on schools reduces pollution and lowers energy bills,” said Johanna Neumann, Senior Director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy at Environment America. “Figuring out how to go solar, and using federal tax credits to help pay for it, can be tricky, especially for school officials whose primary mission is getting our kids the best education possible.That's why we created our green schools guide to make it easier for school districts to go solar in the 2023 school year.”

Tax credits can lower the installation costs by 30% and many states have additional incentives for schools to add these pollution reducing technologies to valuable city infrastructure.

What's more, these investments in renewable energy can become vital tools for community resilience should a natural disaster strike.

“Solar panel technology keeps improving and there’s never been a better time for schools to go solar,” said Neumann. “Given the fierce urgency of global warming, schools will be well-served to tap the abundant solar energy shining down on their buildings.”

The first tip from the guide is to just get started and set a reasonable goal. Get a team of like-minded folks together and identify the stakeholders and decision-makers necessary to bring solar energy to schools.

Already, 6 million kids go to schools that have solar installations, and one-in-ten public schools nationwide have a solar installation, according to a 2022 report by Generation180.

“When schools go solar, it’s an investment in the health of our children and a cleaner, greener future for our planet,” said Neumann.

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