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New York City public schools were among the institutions hit hardest by COVID. The shutdown of schools disrupted the lives of countless families, students, teachers, and parents. 

What happens with public schools in the coming months and years will significantly shape recovery after COVID, especially in low-income communities of color ravaged by the pandemic. 

This report offers the next mayor of New York City an action plan for how to create Green, Healthy Schools for all. It’s the first report to show how the installation of solar energy and air control systems will enhance equity and safety in K-12 public schools, while creating good-paying jobs that help the city achieve its climate goals. 

Key Findings and Highlights of this Report:

  • As of 2019, the City has already allocated $3.8 billion into renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. In his final months in office, Mayor de Blasio should work with city agencies to immediately install solar and HVAC systems in K-12 public schools over the next ten years. The next incoming mayor must continue this effort to create Green, Healthy Schools as part of recovery after COVID. 
  • All New York City public schools, including existing schools, should be healthy and sustainable environments. The next mayor can and should create Green, Healthy Schools in all five boroughs, using PS 62 in Staten Island as a proven model.
  • It will cost the City $460 million over the next four years to install solar panels on all K-12 public schools, and another $1.08 billion over the next 13 years to install HVAC systems and other necessary energy efficiency upgrades. These solar panels and HVAC systems in public schools will make it easier for the city to meet its sustainability goals of reducing greenhouse emissions by 2035 as defined in Local Law 97.
  • Public schools are among the worst climate polluters and largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the city. That’s why the installation of solar panels on public schools will allow the City to make aggressive progress toward reducing climate pollution and energy usage in buildings, and achieving the goal of 100 megawatts (MW) of solar energy on public buildings by 2025.
  • The city should start implementing energy efficiency projects by focusing on installing HVAC systems in schools. Poor air quality not only impacts student and staff health, but it also can also undermine learning by negatively affecting student attendance, comfort, and performance.