- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a $1 billion, 10-year investment program for the city's aging school facilities during his annual address last week, according to the NBC Boston.
- Walsh's "Build BPS (Boston Public Schools)" initiative will include both new construction and upgrades to existing structures in an effort to provide what he referred to as "21st century classrooms." The program will focus on introducing new technology, as well as improved lighting, mechanical systems, energy efficiencies and accessibility.
- Walsh said 65% of Boston's public schools were built before World War II and that only 50% of those had been adequately renovated since then.
Boston is following a nationwide trend of school modernization and new school construction projects that include energy-efficient components. Earlier this month, the Maryland public school system opened the first net-zero energy school in the state, a middle school in Columbia, MD. The school utilizes a total of 2,000 solar panels, which generate at least as much energy as the school uses, helped along by insulation, a geothermal heat pump and programmable lights.
The federal government also recently launched a program that aims to encourage energy-efficient design in schools called the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator, which officials estimated could help save participating schools up to 80% in energy costs.
In its 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook, Dodge Data & Analytics projected that education facility construction starts, driven by the K-12 segment, would increase by 9% this year, or 138 million square feet. The increase in school construction, Dodge said, should also get a boost from the plethora of bond measures passed in the last year.
Another city looking to transform its school stock, Baltimore launched a $1.1 billion school construction and renovation initiative last year backed by revenue bonds. The Maryland Stadium Authority has supervisory responsibilities for the program and will oversee the construction for seven school projects scheduled to begin this year. All together, the program will fund 28 new or renovated schools.