Meet the “net-zero energy” school phenomenon

| April 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

“Net-zero energy” schools are all the rage in the US. The latest to open is the first of its kind in the state of Maryland: Wilde Lake Middle School. The school has a solar panel array that cost US$33 million.

There are 1 400 solar panels on the school roof, while an additional 600 harvest sunlight from the ground. Specially programmed lights only come on when rooms are occupied, heat comes courtesy of a geothermal pump, and walls and windows are properly insulated to retain or reduce heat as necessary. The curriculum is interwoven into the school’s architecture. Students can check the school’s electricity status on the kiosk in the lobby.

Bruce Gist, executive director for capital planning for Howard schools, says the building was “a significant challenge and quite an honour to construct”. The construction team had to learn to use new techniques and materials to lower the building’s energy use index enough to achieve the net-zero status, he says. As the state goes on to construct other similar institutions, construction teams and architects will gather valuable information and experience about building schools for the future. 

Maryland energy administration director, Mary Beth Tung, shows off one of the energy kiosks at Wilde Lake Middle School

Category: Autumn 2017

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