DOE Launches Signature Partnership to Jump-Start Zero Energy Schools

On December 6, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of a new partnership to jump-start zero energy schools across the country and better enable states and school districts alike to design, construct, and operate these cutting-edge, energy-saving schools. The launch of the Zero Energy Schools Accelerator, part of the Better Buildings Initiative, brings together seven school districts, two states, and several national organizations committed to working collaboratively toward the goal of increasing zero energy design and construction in the education sector and among local communities across the nation. A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.

“Schools in this country spend about $8 billion each year on energy, about a quarter of which is wasted from inefficiency, which costs taxpayers and school kids alike,” said David Nemtzow, director, Building Technologies Office (BTO). “This Accelerator will help schools significantly reduce energy while also helping them save money, freeing up much-needed funding that could be rededicated to other learning priorities.”

The Accelerator was launched as part of an in-person tour of a recently completed zero energy school, the Discovery Elementary School located near the nation’s capital, in Arlington, Virginia. The tour, led by Dr. Erin Russo, principal of Discovery Elementary; John C. Chadwick, assistant superintendent for Arlington Public Schools; and Catherine Lin, energy manager for Arlington Public Schools, highlighted several design features including 100% LED lighting, solar thermal water heating for the school’s kitchen to reduce its energy load, low-flow plumbing fixtures to save water, and more than 1,700 mounted solar panels.

“Discovery is highly efficient because the effort to build it was highly collaborative from the start and continues to be today,” said R. Anthony Hans, CMTA, an engineering consultancy that worked in tandem with VMDO Architects as a part of the Discovery Elementary design team. “We track systems data in collaboration with the school to ensure that we can get in and fix anything that is malfunctioning on a weekly basis. Continuous collaboration is one of the main reasons that this schools is performing 10-20% better than our energy model.”

Read more (EIN News)