Oregon schools won’t have to wait much longer for badly needed repairs and energy efficiency upgrades with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber recently signing House Bill 2960 into law.
The bill enables school districts to apply for low cost financing to pay for energy efficiency upgrades in schools so that districts can fix leaky roofs, upgrade to energy efficient lighting, and make heating more efficient. According to legislators, utility bills are often the second largest expense for most Oregon school districts and are growing about 20% every two years. Upgrading older buildings improves airflow and lighting and reduces mold and asbestos.
“Cool Schools is a triple-win for Oregon,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “The program will bring family-wage jobs, cost savings, and better learning environments to schools in communities across the state.”
Oregon legislators point to improved school performance in Washington state as evidence that energy efficiency upgrades boost both student and teacher performance. In 2005, Washington State saw a 15 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 5 percent increase in student test scores after efficiency measures were completed.
Whether you view these as green jobs or not, for every $1M invested in energy upgrades the state estimates that 15 jobs are created. All Oregon school districts are welcome to apply to the Oregon Department of Energy until July 15 for this financing, but Kitzhaber specifically mentioned funds being targeted to rural communities hit hard by tough economic times.
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