Grants Give Rise to Green Schools

Grants Give Rise to Green Schools

State officials have announced an award of $776,900 to cover design costs for seven new or renovated “green” schools in Massachusetts.

The awardees are the first to receive grants as part of the Massachusetts Green Schools Program -- a $13.5 million initiative to promote the design and construction of a new generation of resource and energy efficient “green” school buildings. The schools will be eligible to receive additional funding to cover “green” construction costs later this year.

According to Mitchell Adams, executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state economic development authority, the Massachusetts Green Schools Program provides school districts throughout the state with the information and resources necessary to develop high-performance, energy-efficient facilities.

“Unlike other programs that merely promote the installation of new operating systems, the Massachusetts Green Schools initiative will also raise awareness among future generations of students, teachers and local communities of the sustained environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy,” Adams said.

Districts receiving awards will employ a variety of renewable and energy-efficient technologies, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy, and fuel cells and biomass technology in their school construction and renovation projects.

The seven grant recipients are the City of Salem, the Beverly School Department, the City of Brockton, the City of Newton, the City of Somerville, Williamstown Public Schools, and the City of Waltham.

The Massachusetts Green Schools Program is a cooperative effort between the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust (the Trust) and the Massachusetts Department of Education. The program was established to increase awareness of the environmental, educational and cost benefits of designing and building high-performance green schools. It is a key component of the Trust’s comprehensive effort to develop a sustainable, competitive market for renewable energy in Massachusetts.

According to state Education Commissioner David Driscoll, the program will help influence how future schools will be designed and built in Massachusetts.

“Our partnership with local school and community leaders across the Commonwealth will produce healthier, more productive learning environments and help hold down school operating costs,” Driscoll said.

The Trust began seeking Green Schools Pilot Program participants in November, 2001, for schools expected to be under construction between 2002 and 2004. Awardees will receive up to $130,000 for incremental design costs and up to $500,000 for construction costs associated with the installation of renewable energy technologies and enhanced energy efficiency measures.

Applications for a second round of Pilot Program funding for additional future construction or renovation projects will be available this fall.

In addition to the $13.5 million Massachusetts Green Schools Program, the Trust said it plans to launch a $15 million Green Buildings Program that will be open to public agencies, not-for-profit organizations and private companies that are planning new buildings or major renovations and that are interested in adopting green building practices. The program is subject to final approval by the MTC Board of Directors and will be formally announced later this year.

The Renewable Energy Trust, an essential part of the state’s energy strategy to shift toward greater reliance on renewable resources, was established by the State Legislature to promote the development and use of renewable energy in the Commonwealth. During its first phase of operation, the Trust has earmarked $47 million in grants, loans, and other financial support for renewable energy projects and programs through fiscal 2002.

The Trust is managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state economic development authority based in Westborough, Mass.

The Massachusetts Department of Education oversees the School Building Assistance Program. Since its creation in 1948, the program has provided municipalities with financial assistance for the construction and financing of school projects.

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