public schools with the worst ventilation harm the environment

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Analysis of recent data collected from New York school ventilation audits revealed that 70% of public schools with the worst air problems are located in areas lacking in green technology.

Additionally, the study found that 52% of these schools are located in Brooklyn.

A report released June 1 by ALIGN, an environmental organization, created a blueprint for New York City Mayor Eric Adams to create green, healthy schools by prioritizing the needs of those schools — namely, providing effective ventilation and Air quality monitoring to minimize the spread and transmission of COVID-19.

Public schools are also among the city’s biggest polluters, as many buildings rely heavily on fossil fuels for everyday needs like heating and cooling. ALIGN’s report shows the city is over 80% behind on its solar installation targets, with just one in 67 priority solar schools completed.

“NYC’s youth spend 180 days a year in school where their health and safety must be our priority. But as COVID case numbers rise again, their health remains at risk in overcrowded, poorly ventilated classrooms,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of ALIGN, a chair of the Climate Works for All coalition. “Public schools are among the dirtiest buildings in the city, but they can be our best solutions. Our Green, Healthy Schools Blueprint will ensure the city prioritizes health and climate justice while creating hundreds of career jobs for communities hardest hit by the climate crisis. Now the responsibility lies with the city to make it happen and there is no time to wait.”

ALIGN researchers estimate that installing solar and HVAC systems in every public school would cost the city $1.8 billion annually by 2030, but would save at least 50% in energy savings and create about 63,000 direct jobs per year .

“From Brownsville to the East Bronx, every community in New York City should be home to a healthy, state-of-the-art public school,” said Dave Hancock, interim executive director, Climate Jobs NY. “We know that public schools are big polluters and that outdated school buildings with inefficient air conditioning and heating systems, decaying roofs and outdated electrical systems are all too common, especially in communities of color. It doesn’t have to be like this. We now have billions of federal dollars available for our city to invest in repairing and retrofitting school buildings to create healthier classrooms for students and educators, reduce carbon emissions and pollution, create good union jobs, and give our city millions of dollars save on energy costs. Healthy school buildings mean healthy children, educators and communities.”

With her blueprint Green, Healthy Schools offers Mayor Adams a plan to help NYC transition to a zero-carbon future in education while addressing the needs of pandemic recovery. Solar power systems will reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuels, while systemic changes to retrofits will make school buildings cleaner and more energy efficient.

Elected officials intervened to raise concerns about polluting schools and children’s well-being.

“We cannot allow our New York City public schools to continue to be major polluters,” said Councilman Lincoln Restler (District 33). “The Green, Healthy Schools Campaign will put us on the path to including our schools in the strategy to fight the climate crisis, protecting our children today and our planet for generations to come.”

Mayor Adams’ office is currently reviewing the report while amNewYork Metro awaits comment.

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