How does a school attain Net Zero?

click for photo source

click for photo source

What does it mean for a building to be Net Zero?  There are many ways careful considerations can help any school attempt to reach Net Zero or embrace green design – including a recent example at Richard J. Lee Elementary.

“The net-zero designation means that the school will produce as much energy as it uses, mainly through eco-friendly processes and building features like solar panels (there are 1,096 on the school’s roof), wind energy generators, rainwater collection systems, geothermal units, and daylight-harvesting lighting.  During the next year, the school’s energy usage will net out at zero, and when the building is generating more power than it needs, it will funnel that energy back into the community’s electricity grid” (Read More).

Net Zero design not only comes in to play, but compliments a forward-thinking overall approach to learning.  The school is flexible, and has renamed the classrooms “spaces” and teachers “designers” encouraging a multi-functional use of learning arenas.

“We call them spaces, and so our designers utilize the spaces based on the needs. So it could be how they arrange the furniture to how they use the materials or how they even use the walls…Thanks to special paint, learning happens on walls, windows, and all over the place. The furniture is made to move around and it does. The configurations change as often as the lessons in a school built to create more energy than it uses…the end result, a school comprised of six ‘houses’ that each feature six classes (for kindergarten through fifth grade), intends to foster inclusivity and cross-collaboration through the shared use of four semi-traditional classrooms and co-working spaces” (Read More).