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.
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.
Developed as part of DOE's Zero Energy Schools Accelerator (ZESA), this guide outlines 8 steps to creating a Zero Energy school.
This report challenges the assumption that zero-energy K-12 schools are cost-prohibitive. By examining the costs of a subset of existing ZE schools and the strategies used to contain those costs, architects, engineers, owners, and researchers are challenging the notion that cost is a barrier to building ZE schools.