Huffman Introduces Bill to Help Modernize America’s Schools

July 30, 2014

WASHINGTON­—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced a bill to help rebuild America’s schools and public libraries and upgrade their broadband infrastructure, all while cutting energy and maintenance costs. The Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act of 2014 (H.R. 5259) would allow state infrastructure banks to make loans for projects to repair school facilities, make energy efficiency improvements, install broadband internet infrastructure, among others.

“America’s future depends on the investments we make in education today,” Huffman said. “Our students deserve modern schools and libraries, with the broadband internet connections they need to improve collaboration and access cutting-edge educational materials. The Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act will give school districts and public libraries the tools to maintain high-performing facilities that reduce energy use and give our children the best opportunity to succeed.”  

According to a March 2013 report by the U.S. Green Building Council, schools across the country are currently facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance cost just to bring buildings up to working order—approximately $5,450 per student. The Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools reports that K-12 schools spend more than $8 billion annually on energy, making energy the second highest operating expenditure for schools after personnel costs. On average, green schools use 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventionally constructed schools. The typical green school saves $100,000 per year on operating costs; enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks.

Huffman’s bill requires borrowers to use green construction or renovation practices that are consistent with: (1) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating standards, (2) the Living Building Challenge, (3) the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), or (4) a state equivalent that has equivalent or higher standards.

A factsheet on the bill may be found HERE. The bill text may be found HERE.

Huffman’s bill is supported by: American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Rebuild America’s Schools, Californians for School Facilities, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS).

Rachel Gutter, Director, Center for Green Schools at U.S. Green Building Council:

“By our latest count, we estimate it will take $271 billion to bring our nation’s school buildings up to working order and comply with laws. If we add to that modernization costs to ensure that our schools meet today’s education, safety and health standards, that number increases to $542 billion. The Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act of 2014 is an important step toward closing this deferred maintenance gap and bringing our children the quality education they deserve. We applaud Congressman Huffman’s leadership to promote efficient school buildings that cost less to operate and provide healthier, more productive learning spaces for our students.”

Bob Canavan, Chair, Rebuild America's Schools:

There is an incredible national need to invest in our nation's school facilities.   Conservative estimates place the need to renovate, repair, modernize, and to update broadband technology in schools at the state and local levels at over $300 billion.   This school infrastructure need is beyond the capacity of state and local governments to finance.   Infrastructure banks such as proposed in this legislation can provide much needed federal support while leaving the actual decision making about school building projects at the state and local level.”