Zero Energy Schools

Zero Energy Schools

Energy consumption represents the second highest operational expense to schools, second only to salaries. Each year, a significant portion of taxpayer dollars are spent on school utility expenses, thereby cutting into funding that could be allocated to resources for students. On average, zero energy schools can use between 65%–80% less energy than conventionally constructed schools, and the remaining energy required is supplied by renewable energy. In addition, zero energy schools can become prominent community landmarks that educate a new generation of students with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills critical to our nation’s future.

Accelerators News

The latest Energy Department breaking news, announcements, and updates featuring Better Buildings Accelerators.

2018 Progress Report

More than 350 leading public and private sector organizations in the Better Buildings Challenge are saving 380 trillion Btus and an estimated $3.1 billion in cumulative energy and cost savings.

2018 Summit Presentations are Live

Slide decks from the 2018 Better Buildings Summit sessions are now available to download and share. 

Featured Solutions

Arlington County is facing massive growth in the next decade and is seeking to add half a million square feet in educational facilities. Discovery Elementary is Arlington's first zero-energy school. Not only did the project come in under budget, but the building is more efficient than originally predicted. Now Discovery saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers.
This guide provides user-friendly guidance for achieving a zero energy K-12 school building. It establishes a set of energy performance goals and applies to all sizes and classifications of K-12 school buildings (elementary, middle, high). Space types covered include administrative and office space, classrooms, hallways, restrooms, gymnasiums and multipurpose rooms, libraries, and food preparation and dining areas.

Other Resources

Case Studies

A case study of Discovery Elementary School, a zero energy school in Virginia. 
A case study of Odyssey Elementary School in Utah. 
A case study of Friends School of Portland, a zero energy school in Maine.

Fact Sheet

The Zero Energy Schools Accelerator aims to make Zero Energy K-12 schools mainstream, while enhancing the educational environment for our nation’s students.

Guidance

Access definitions for a zero energy building which produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the building sector.
This technical feasibility study, published by the National Renewable Energy Lab, provides documentation and research results supporting a possible set of strategies to achieve source zero energy K-12 school buildings according to the DOE definition of a zero energy building (ZEB). This feasibility study applies to elementary, middle, and high school buildings.
Learn how designing, building, and operating zero energy ready K-12 schools provide benefits for districts, students, and teachers.  Includes a checklist and best practices summary for achieving a zero energy ready school. 
School districts have encountered and overcome challenges to achieving zero energy in school buildings.  Here’s how they accomplished it. 
Zero energy schools are possible and practical, and architects are leading the way. This gives examples of how architects can communicate the benefits of zero energy goals to school districts, teachers and the community, and best practices architects use to achieve a zero energy design. 

Videos

Arlington County is facing massive growth in the next decade and is seeking to add half a million square feet in educational facilities. Discovery Elementary is Arlington's first zero-energy school. Not only did the project come in under budget, but the building is more efficient than originally predicted. Now Discovery saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers.
Most buildings today use a lot of energy -- to keep the lights on, cool the air, heat water, and power personal devices. Even installing solar systems will not significantly counter the heavy energy load. There are, however, some buildings that strike a balance; or even tip the scales the other way!

Priorities

Partners

A-Z

Adams 12 - Five Star Schools
Arlington County School District
Association for Learning Environments
Baltimore City Public Schools
Boulder Valley School District
Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
Douglas County School District, CO
Hermosa Beach City School District
Horry County Schools
National Association of State Energy Officials
National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project
New Buildings Institute
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP)
Rocky Mountain Institute
San Francisco Unified School District
State of California
The Energy Coalition
U.S. Department of Education

Location

Arizona

Association for Learning Environments

California

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
Hermosa Beach City School District
San Francisco Unified School District
The Energy Coalition

Colorado

Boulder Valley School District
Douglas County School District, CO
Rocky Mountain Institute

District Of Columbia

U.S. Department of Education

Maryland

Baltimore City Public Schools

Massachusetts

Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP)

Oregon

New Buildings Institute

South Carolina

Horry County Schools

Virginia

Arlington County School District
National Association of State Energy Officials
National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project