On March 10, the Senate amended the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, landmark legislation to tackle climate change in Maryland. The bill was amended on the Senate floor to specify certain requirements for school construction.
While SB 528 — Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 still faces a final vote for passage in the Senate, the chamber on Thursday approved several amendments targeting public school buildings. The bill, as drafted, had exempted Maryland’s public schools from the construction-related mandates of the bill, reflecting that school construction is already held to high standards for environmental wellbeing.
Information on school facility standards is available on the Interagency Commission on School Construction website.
If the bill were enacted into law as amended while on the Senate floor, here’s what it would mean for counties as they pursue future school construction projects:
- Per an amendment introduced by Senator Jim Rosapepe, and adopted by 30-14, school systems would be required to measure and report direct greenhouse gas emissions to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) annually, beginning in 2025; and
- Per an amendment introduced by Senator Chris West, school systems would be required to consider placing solar panels on the roofs of new schools constructed between July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2033. If the jurisdiction decides not to install panels, it must report on its decision and reasoning for not doing so to the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IACC).
While both approved amendments do not mandate schools be constructed to be net zero or to include solar panels on new construction, they do move school construction policies in the direction of doing so in the future.
The bill will likely be back on the Senate floor for final passage on Friday, March 11, and comparable legislation is still in active consideration in the House of Delegates.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more on the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 and what it means for counties.