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Maryland Energy Administration renews Decarbonizing Public Schools Program

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) Thursday announced the renewal of its Decarbonizing Public Schools Program for fiscal year 2023.

The program offers grant funding to school districts to expand their capacities for managing energy data, reduce operating costs, and incorporate energy performance criteria into capital improvement planning. Overall program funding for FY23 is $1.8 million, allocated from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund.

This year’s effort builds on the pilot program, which engaged seven Maryland public school districts in collaboration with the Maryland Interagency Commission for School Construction (IAC). Both MEA and IAC wish to jump-start school districts’ long-term capacities to stay current with evolving technologies and legislation pertaining to greenhouse gas reduction through clean and efficient energy use.

The Decarbonizing Public Schools program offers participants the fiscal resources to engage technical assistance when adopting one or both of two high-performance energy principles. One is energy data management, which provides a diagnostic pulse on energy use and expenses. The second is net zero energy (NZE) facility design, which involves technologies that would allow a school facility to use a volume of energy that is equal to or less than the energy that it generates onsite through efficiency combined with clean energy technologies such as solar, geothermal or combined heat and power.

School districts can apply for grant funding to defray the cost of consultants, staff and software to enable the district to manage energy data in concert with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager energy data analytics platform.

Alternatively, school districts may use grant funding to cover the costs of consultative services or additional staff for developing feasibility plans for adopting NZE principles to its portfolio of new facility construction. Grant funding will aid recipient school districts to develop strategies for harmonizing NZE technologies with considerations unique to their facility portfolios.