The House of Delegates adopted this resolution at its May 29, 2024 meeting.

WHEREAS the AFT has declared that we are in the middle of a climate emergency, and

WHEREAS unless we dramatically move away from using fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, we will succumb to the worst case scenario of climate crisis, harming the future of our families, our students and our planet, and

WHEREAS public school, university, city and hospital buildings are enormous energy consumers and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, and

WHEREAS burning fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings is the source of 31% of all U.S. carbon emissions; and is the school and hospital administrator’s highest cost after staffing, and

WHEREAS burning fossil fuels causes multiple long term health issues, including asthma, cancer, and contributes to heart disease, and

WHEREAS the federal Inflation Reduction Act will reimburse public schools, universities and hospitals up to 60% for the cost of clean energy projects, and can now receive “direct pay” payments once projects are completed instead of tax credits, and

WHEREAS these savings will free up resources for the primary missions of schools, universities and hospitals, and

WHEREAS because the AFT is profoundly concerned with long-term equity, it is imperative that disadvantaged communities benefit from the transition to clean energy and not be left behind as the climate crisis intensifies, and

WHEREAS the benefits of transitioning to limitless clean energy (whether solar, wind, geothermal) are manifold:

  • clean and healthy environments improve student learning, educational outcomes, and staff retention;
  • cleaner air reduces asthma and sick days;
  • schools and universities powered by clean energy can double as climate-resilient emergency shelters as we face more extreme weather due to climate change;
  • transitioning public schools, universities and hospitals will create jobs and job training opportunities for residents;
  • reducing carbon emissions saves enormous amounts of energy and money, ultimately projects to pay for themselves; and

RESOLVED the AFT encourage all locals to participate in local coalitions and efforts to advance implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act to transition their schools, universities and hospitals to clean energy alternatives; and

RESOLVED the AFT encourage all locals to participate in local coalitions and efforts to advance implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act to transition their schools, universities and hospitals to clean energy alternatives; and

RESOLVED the AFT and its locals pressure the States to do more to enable every community to make the energy transition especially by making no-interest loans available for up-front costs for decarbonization for public schools, universities, and hospitals; and

RESOLVED the AFT and its locals prioritize low income communities that are, in general, more vulnerable to the predicted ravages of climate change and more likely to experience the high asthma rates associated with burning fossil fuels; and

RESOLVED the AFT and its locals urge and support efforts to ensure our young people engage in robust, meaningful, interdisciplinary climate change and climate justice curricula with the goal of preparing students to participate productively and responsibly in a rapidly changing world, and in emerging green, sustainable professions; and be it finally

RESOLVED the AFT advance this work through articles in American Teacher and state-wide communications, paving the way for AFT locals to join coalitions and organize for cities, towns, counties and states to support and facilitate the efforts to implement the IRA in our public schools, universities and hospitals.


Note:

How it works is straightforward. Projects receive up to 30% of a clean energy project’s cost as a base credit. After that, projects can qualify for an additional 10% domestic content bonus credit if they procure more than 40% of their materials from U.S. manufacturers. Low-income communities (in census tracts with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent) receive an additional 10% credit. Lastly, communities in census tracts near recently closed coal fired power plants or brownfield sites qualify for another 10% credit. The Center for Public Enterprise notes the many tax credits schools can access.

Adding the IRA’s tax credits accelerates the transition to clean energy and makes more projects cost-effective within a given time horizon. A local government can “stack” IRA credits with other sources of support. States should be looking to help local governments maximize their ability to take advantage of these credits by providing support. Swiftly transitioning to clean energy will save money and free up resources for schools’ primary mission while reducing fossil fuel reliance.

Additional Information:

BlueGreen Alliance’s Public Buildings Roadmap for additional federal funding available for schools.

BlueGreen Alliance’s Direct Pay User Guide for Schools and Nonprofits for more details on qualifying for clean energy project reimbursements.

BlueGreen Alliance’s Domestic Content User Guide on how to meet the requirements to qualify for direct pay