Construction Begins On Largest U.S. Zero Energy Public School

It’s a perfect storm, so to speak, of renewable energy, that includes geothermal, solar and wind. The result is a building that will produce more energy than it uses (a.k.a., a net zero building) while educating kids in grades 6-8 in Irving, Texas: the new  Lady Bird Johnson Middle School

Built by Charter Builders, the company awarded the $29 million contract by the Irving ISD to manage construction, the school has all the eco bells and whistles–including increased insulation, high-efficiency glazing, daylighting, and an Energy Star kitchen–and was designed to meet LEED Gold specifications. The school will take care of its external environment as well, making use of permeable paving to reduce runoff and harvest rainwater and grey water for irrigation. But the real stand-out feature of this 150,000-square-foot facility is the energy it’s slated to produce through an integrated combination of solar panels, geothermal energy harvesting, and wind turbines, making it the largest net-zero school in the country.


image via Irving ISD

“We’re proud to be a part of this project,” said Charles E. DeVoe, III, President of Charter Builders, in a statement. “We have worked with Irving ISD for seven years, and we’re thrilled to partner with them as we pioneer ways to build better, more environmentally responsible schools in Texas.” The school, which is scheduled to open to students in August 2011, will offer practical, hands-on experiences with geothermal science, rainwater collection, solar panel usage, and wind turbine efficiency.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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