Sunday, October 1, 2023

The importance of electricity and sustainable school buildings in California

Millions of young Californians have returned to school and as parents, we want the best for our children. However, school buildings in California face many challenges. They are old, dirty and ill-equipped to protect students from the effects of the climate crisis. Most of these buildings were designed for a different California, where extreme heat waves, fires, and surface storms are less frequent. In addition, these schools still rely on fossil fuels, which contribute to the problem by creating pollution.

The solution lies in all-electric buildings. They offer healthier and more comfortable learning environments while producing zero carbon emissions. A new bill currently pending in the Legislature aims to create a master plan for healthy, sustainable and climate-resilient schools in the state. With the upcoming school bond bill and public financing for electrification, California has an opportunity to prioritize student health and transition away from fossil fuels.

Currently, most state schools use fossil fuels for heating and cooking, which causes indoor air pollution. All-electric buildings, on the other hand, offer better air quality through electric heat pumps and modern filtration systems. These systems heat, cool, and filter the air in classrooms, improving the health and well-being of students. Research even suggests that modernized facilities can generate performance gains of up to 10%.

Besides protecting students’ health and improving learning, improving and electrifying schools can also protect people during disasters. Schools often serve as evacuation centers during events such as wildfires. By equipping them with solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps, these buildings can continue to provide air conditioning even if the power grid is compromised.

Replacing old fossil fuel-powered equipment in schools is also a smart investment. California spends $8 billion annually to build and modernize school facilities. Simply replacing an old gas stove with a new gas stove will likely result in the need for additional replacements before the end of their useful life. Therefore, it is important to have a state plan to ensure that schools stop creating pollution and align with California’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

While some school districts are taking steps on their own to eliminate fossil fuel use, state leadership is needed. Senate Bill 394 is awaiting approval and funding to move forward. In addition, the state must allocate funds to support the planning process. A possible bond next year would provide billions for school infrastructure, but must be aligned with the state’s climate goals to avoid investing in outdated systems.

California has already taken some steps toward electrification. Last year, the state Legislature appropriated $20 million to help schools upgrade their heating, air conditioning and electric ventilation. In addition, federal funds, such as those provided by the Inflammation Reduction Act, can also support school electrification efforts.

Children deserve modern, safe learning environments that do not contribute to the climate crisis. It is important that California officials use available funds to improve school infrastructure and reduce fossil fuel pollution. By prioritizing the health and future of our students, we can create healthy, climate-resilient schools across the state.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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