The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) today launched the Schools and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus (SSB) Program, a $180 million grant program for New Jersey schools and small businesses to repair or replace HVAC systems, plumbing fixtures, and appliances to meet efficiency and health standards. The federally funded program will dedicate at least $135 million of its funding to schools and small businesses within underserved communities as part of the Murphy Administration’s commitment to equity and environmental justice.
“Through the Schools and Small Business grant program, we are putting the health of our children first and ensuring small businesses have access to the tools they need to cut energy and water costs and improve indoor air quality in their establishments,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “As we rise to the challenges of climate change and the ongoing pandemic, these grants will enable the direct benefits of cleaner facilities, as well as the economic boost in local labor needed to complete these projects, especially in overburdened communities.”
In launching the SSB programs, NJBPU delivers on legislation signed in August by Governor Murphy and sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Troy Singleton, and Assemblymembers Pamela Lampitt, Wayne DeAngelo, and Thomas Giblin.
“This investment is a critical piece of our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, providing economic incentives to update HVAC systems to current health and safety standards while creating thousands of job opportunities across New Jersey,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “School districts and small businesses have an opportunity to reduce operating costs through energy efficiency while ensuring cleaner air inside their classrooms and facilities.”
“As schools and small businesses work to reopen, these energy efficiency grants will provide much needed funding to replace antiquated ventilation and plumbing systems that are not only inefficient and costly, but unsafe as we continue to confront COVID-19,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “The improvements funded by this program will benefit our students and the residents of New Jersey for years to come.”
The SSB funding is subdivided into two programs: the School and Small Business Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair (SSB-VEEVR) Program; and the School and Small Business Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance (SSB-NPFA) Program.
The SSB funding will cover 75 percent of the total cost for projects initiated under these programs, while the other 25 percent must come from outside sources. The programs include a cap of $5 million per school district and $500,000 per small business to ensure more entities are able to participate.
Outdated HVAC and plumbing systems are less efficient and more costly to operate than modern equipment, and often fail to meet current health and safety standards. In response to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSB program aims to facilitate the repair and replacement of these systems in order to reduce wasted energy and improve public health and safety, including a requirement that sinks, toilets, and urinals be touchless to help reduce the spread of germs.