DCSD among first to launch Zero Energy Schools Accelerator
SIX SCHOOL DISTRICTS, INCLUDING DCSD, ARE AMONG THE FIRST AIMING TO MAKE ZERO ENERGY SCHOOLS MAINSTREAM
The U.S. Energy Department recently launched the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. Six school districts, including Douglas County School District, plus two states and several national organizations are working collaboratively to develop zero energy design that is cost-competitive to conventional construction in the education sector and in local communities across the nation. A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building, where on a source energy basis, the actual delivered energy is less than or equal to the onsite renewable exported energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Zero Energy schools have the potential to save 65-to-80 percent in energy consumption, depending on the climate zone.
“Through the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator, partners commit to real savings,” said Kathleen Hogan, U.S. Department of Energy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “By using the most energy-efficient technologies, and engaging students and the local community, school districts can lead the way in saving taxpayer dollars and creating more resilient and first-in-class educational facilities.”
In addition to saving money for taxpayers, Zero Energy schools also make a difference in the learning environment for students. Improved ventilation and daylighting are used extensively in most Zero Energy schools and studies have shown that both these strategies help improve the learning environment. Teachers are also able to transform classrooms into 3D engagement opportunities with the student body by using energy dashboards and new technologies as teaching tools.
"We are excited to be part of this program because we can learn best practices from our neighboring school districts as well as districts outside of Colorado," said LeeAnn Westfall, Sustainability and Energy Manager for the Douglas County School District. "This will help us better prepare for projected future growth and rising utility cost. It also helps us learn innovative design for 21st century learning."
The goal is to quickly make Zero Energy K-12 schools more mainstream. Partner school districts commit to developing their own zero energy plans for a district project within a year. They can also engage with fellow states and school districts, and leverage support from regional and national organizations, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, Southern California Edison, The Energy Coalition, New Buildings Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute, and the National Association of State Energy Officials.
In addition to the Douglas County School District, the first participating school districts include:
- Boulder Valley School District (Boulder, Colorado)
- Adams 12 – Five Star Schools (Thornton, Colorado)
- State of Minnesota Schools
- State of California Schools
- Hermosa Beach City School District (Hermosa Beach, California)
- LA Unified School District (Los Angeles, California)
- Arlington School District (Arlington, Virginia)