Aiming to get school administrators in New York state to “go green,” state education and environmental officials have rolled out new guidelines for building energy-efficient schools.
But, despite a publicity blitz, it turns out that the state isn’t providing the “green” that really counts: money.
In announcing the new, voluntary guidelines late last month, state officials pointed out that schools already share in more than $1.7 billion in building aid this year. But, they acknowledge, the energy-efficiency guidelines come with no additional money.
“This is really to give them practical advice,” said Jonathan Burman, a spokesman for the state education department.
Building “green” schools comes with its own financial advantages, state officials argue. Such schools use less electricity, their air quality is better, and can show savings of up to 40 percent on energy and maintenance, according to a study by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative of energy-efficient schools.
What are the new guidelines? Schools should be easily accessible by bicycle, have good amounts of glare-free daylight, use plumbing fixtures that conserve water, and have ventilation systems that reduce the flow of indoor toxins. The guidelines were modeled after a version in Massachusetts.
Although New York is providing no extra money to build such schools, existing state programs can help, said Colleen Ryan, a spokeswoman for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The state has nearly a dozen programs to encourage energy-efficient schools. A $2.1 million program provided solar-energy-collection systems to 50 schools in 2003. A school construction program provides up to 75 percent reimbursement for the additional cost schools incur to install energy-efficient technology.
And last month’s rollout already has had an effect. The state’s East Hampton district, which serves about 1,000 students and plans to upgrade its high school with more energy-efficient technology, is the first to submit building plans based on the guidelines.