Campus Sustainability

Washington, D.C., Debuts Two Net-Zero-Energy Schools

Design firm Perkins Eastman recently announced the opening of the first two net-zero-energy schools in Washington, D.C. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies for both schools—Banneker Academic High School and West/John Lewis Elementary School—took place in the last week of August; they were attended by the Mayor’s Office, the DC Department of General Services, and DC Public Schools.

“It is an honor to have worked with the schools and communities of Banneker Academic High School and West/John Lewis Elementary School to create buildings that not only reflect their academic cultures and look to the future, but also promote the health and well-being of both students and staff,” said Perkins Eastman Principal Sean O’Donnell FAIA, LEED AP, leader of the firm’s K–12 practice. “Through their energy efficiency, deep focus on indoor environmental quality in order to promote health and well-being and enhance educational outcomes, and great design for optimal learning, these new schools will be the centerpiece of their neighborhoods and are in the vanguard of 21st-century school design.”

According to a press release, both schools feature high-performance design solutions like geothermal fields, solar panels, high-performance envelopes, high-efficiency equipment, advanced metering capabilities and real-time energy consumption monitoring. The combined effect of both schools using renewable energy is projected to reduce DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) energy consumption and carbon emissions by nearly 50% by 2032.

Banneker Academic High School measures in at 175,000 sq. ft. and comes with a price tag of $135.1 million. The four-story facility offers what a press release calls a “collegiate ambiance” designed to help transition its population of 800 students into a higher education environment. Amenities include state-of-the-art labs, a new auditorium and a new multi-purpose room, as well as open community spaces like a dog park and a skate park.

The new West/John Lewis Elementary School, meanwhile, measures 90,000 sq. ft. and cost $77.5 million. It’s a new facility for an existing school meant to improve on facets like flexible space, ease of communication, daylighting, acoustics, security and outdoor space availability. The school serves more than 550 students in grades preK–5. It also boasts a large photovoltaic array across the building’s entire southern façade.

“The shared vision for these two schools—embraced by the city, the designers, the builders, school administrators and the communities—resulted in buildings that will enhance education, enrich communities and serve as national models of sustainable, high-performance school design,” said Perkins Eastman’s Omar Calderón, AIA, LEED AP, Design Principal for both schools. “We’ve seen over the past year how incredibly important and vital—what rich resources—our public schools are. Perkins Eastman is very proud to have contributed to such an historic ‘Welcome back’ to both Banneker and West/John Lewis students and staff.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].