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New York City will convert 100 schools to electric heat

Oct. 28, 2022
City officials say the switch from heating oil will improve air quality and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

New York City says it will convert 100 existing schools to electric heat by 2030.

Mayor Eric Adams says in a news release that the switch to electric heat will enable the city to end use of highly polluting No. 4 heating oil in schools. The city will also install upgraded, more efficient LED lights in 800 schools by 2026.

The facility upgrades are part of the city’s “Leading the Charge” initiative” — a $4 billion plan to combat climate change, create more healthful learning environments, improve air quality in communities disproportionately burdened by climate change and environmental injustice, and help develop the next generation’s green workforce.

“Under this bold plan, we will not only electrify 100 schools but also ensure that we never again build a school in New York City that runs on fossil fuels,” Adams says. “In ‘Leading the Charge,’ we are making a $4 billion investment in the health, education, and prosperity of our young people.”

Under “Leading the Charge,” the Adams administration will end the city’s use of highly polluting No. 4 heating oil in schools — four years ahead of the legal mandate. The city will also install upgraded, more efficient LED lights in 800 schools by 2026 and support training and development for the students who will become the next generation of the green workforce. 

Under “Leading the Charge,” all new schools designed and constructed by the New York City School Construction Authority will be fully electric, reducing the city’s reliance on fossil fuels. The city will also no longer initiate new projects to install fossil fuel combustion boilers in existing schools.

The program is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 tons annually and remove over 20,000 pounds of harmful, disease-causing fine particulates from the air — the equivalent of removing 26,000 cars from city streets.

Electrifying school heating systems in the city will eliminate the use of highly polluting No. 4 heating oil by 2026 by converting over 200 schools to ultra-low sulfur biofuel — a critical step toward electrification. 

The investment in school electrification includes $520 million over the next two fiscal years to electrify the first 19 existing schools. These electrification projects will replace fossil fuel-burning boilers that provide heat in older schools with high-efficiency, all-electric heat pumps.

The “Leading the Charge” plan will also bring high-efficiency, LED lighting to 800 schools, about half of all city school facilities. This $540 million, four-year retrofit initiative—a partnership with the New York Power Authority (NYPA)—represents the largest and most cost-effective opportunity to save energy and help meet the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 50% by 2030.

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