Proposed Bill Helps Schools Become Climate Friendly
Author: Edwin J. Viera
The bill would direct the Virginia Department of Energy and the Commission on School Construction and Modernization to gather information about climate-smart programs for schools to implement. Schools in the state would also receive technical assistance and help seeking funding sources. Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Ashburn, the bill's author, said while the program the bill creates is completely optional, an important part of future building will include renewable energy. "When you build a school, it doesn't just last five years, and then you tear it down, and you build another one. It's got to last a long time. Decades, right?" Subramanyam pointed out. "And I don't see us in 20, 30 years; I don't see a future that's not going to involve renewable energy." School administrators told him they were not sure how to access certain climate-friendly resources. A previous version of the bill was introduced in 2021 but needed to be revised. Subramanyam hopes the legislation will aid schools in preparing for a climate-smart future. Molly Robertson, research associate at Resources for the Future, believes it is a critical part of the puzzle to ensure schools move toward climate friendliness. One benefit she sees is getting schools access to information about adapting renewable-energy resources. However, she noted if they do not have the resources to get involved with the program, there is not much help in the way of accessing climate-smart grants. Robertson added there are lower-cost options to make Virginia schools more environmentally friendly.