State Launches Pilot Initiative to Increase Net Zero Energy Capacity in Schools

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced the launch of the Decarbonizing Public Schools Pilot Program to expand the capacity of local education agencies (LEA) for managing energy data, reducing operating costs, and for inserting energy performance criteria into capital improvement planning.

The Decarbonizing Public Schools Pilot Program was developed by MEA and the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) to “foster LEAs’ long-term capacities for energy management and net zero energy (NZE) school design and construction, where the total amount of energy used is equal to or less than the amount of renewable energy created.”

Notably, the program provides $2 million in state funding from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund to help local school systems develop and expand their capacity to address ongoing energy challenges and opportunities for controlling costs through data management, as well as adopting cost-effective net zero energy design considerations for public school portfolio planning.

“MEA has been helping make Net Zero Energy schools a reality, having recently supported three projects, including the Holabird and Graceland Park/O’Donnell Heights schools in Baltimore City and Wilde Lake Middle School in Howard County,” said Dr. Mary Beth Tung, Director of MEA. “Early lessons from these projects indicate lifecycle operating costs can be greatly reduced when sound energy management and design principles are incorporated early in project identification and design.”

A total of $2,000,000 is anticipated to be available for distribution to grant participants between AOI.1 and AOI.2. The amount awarded may vary depending on the quantity and quality of applications received.

Decarbonizing Public Schools Pilot Program details and funding

  • Energy Data Management Support for K-12 School Districts: Funding for approximately one year of technical support to establish or expand the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to build an LEA’s capacity for energy data analytics. Program grants can defray costs of implementing the tool, as well as the cost of consultants and other resources to initiate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of performance metrics.
  • Support for Implementing NZE Elements into Facility Construction: As an emerging design concept, NZE construction will challenge the business-as-usual approach to school construction planning. The intent of this grant is to allow LEAs to identify NZE opportunities on a portfolio scale. Grants can be used to cover the costs of consultative services or additional staff for tasks specific to the integration of portfolio-wide considerations into long-range plans.

Application details

  • Type of grant: Competitive, with consideration of need. Applicants may apply for funding to support one or both AOIs, for either their entire school district or for a significantly sized multi-facility subset. Grants are intended to fund scopes for portfolio-level activities. Scopes for individual school facilities will not be considered.
  • Program Application Deadline: 5:00 P.M. EDT on April 20, 2022.

Useful links

For more information, contact MEA regarding by email the Decarbonizing Public Schools Program at schools.mea@maryland.gov​.

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