(TRENTON) – Air and water quality in schools and small businesses has become more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce the risk of viral transmission among individuals in these buildings and to promote the long term sustainability of HVAC and water systems within our schools and small business, Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden), Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Thomas Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic) sponsor legislation passed Thursday by the full Assembly 72-2 to establish the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program in the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The measure was also passed by the Senate 37-2. The bill (A-5944) would also consist of two sub-programs:
- The School and Small Business Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program (SSBVEEVR); and
- The School and Small Business Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance Program (SSBNPFA)
For the SSBVEEVR program, the bill requires the BPU to award grants that would ensure schools and small business have functional HVAC systems that are tested, adjusted, repaired, upgraded, or replaced to increase efficiency and performance. The sub-program would also require that all classrooms be equipped with a carbon dioxide monitor that meets the requirements determined by the BPU. A licensed professional would determine if any additional adjustments or repairs are necessary to meet the ventilation and filtration requirements.
For the SSBNPFA program, the bill requires that the BPU award grants to replace noncompliant plumbing fixtures that fail to meet water efficiency standards.
Schools and small businesses in underserved communities are required to receive at least 75 percent of the project funding allotted by the BPU. Small businesses in the measure are defined as concerning women and minority-owned small businesses specifically.
Upon Assembly approval of the legislation, Lampitt, DeAngelo, and Giblin issued to following joint statement:
“Throughout the pandemic we have learned the importance of clean air in our schools. With proper filters in the HVAC units, we can remove disease particles and reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses.
“Many small businesses do not have sufficient funding to replace or maintain HVAC and plumbing equipment. The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on our small businesses and made maintaining efficient air and water systems a crucial part of business operations as they strive to protect both customers and employees.”
“This bill would not only help to reduce COVID-19 transmission in our state, but it will also address long term issues that will benefit our schools and small businesses for years to come. By updating antiquated air and water systems, we will keep our citizens safer and reduce costs for schools and small businesses throughout New Jersey.”