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May 272010
Artist's rendering of what will be the largest "net zero" public school in the U.S.

Artist's rendering of what will be the largest "net zero" public school in the U.S.

From Green Right Now Reports

Irving Independent School District has broken ground on the largest “net zero” public school in the United States. The Texas school district’s Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is designed to produce as much energy as it uses, thereby reducing operating costs for the district and shrinking the school’s carbon footprint.

To reduce energy consumption, the school is designed to meet LEED Gold specifications and will feature increased insulation, high-efficiency glazing, daylighting, and an Energy Star kitchen. The school also will use permeable paving to reduce runoff and harvest rainwater and grey water for irrigation.

Charter Builders of Dallas was awarded the $29 million contract to manage construction of the new school. The 150,000-square-foot facility will produce its own energy via solar panels, geothermal energy harvesting and wind turbines. If the school produces excess energy, the district could sell energy to a local electric provider, creating a potential revenue source for the district.

“Net-zero buildings help reverse negative trends associated with climate change. Irving’s new middle school will consume approximately half the energy that a typical middle school building consumes,” Scott Layne, the school district’s Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, said in a statement.

Scheduled to open in August, 2011, the building will serve as a three-dimensional learning space, teaching students environmental responsibility through practical, hands-on experiences with geothermal science, rainwater collection, solar panel usage, and wind turbine efficiency.

In addition to Charter Builders, planners who helped the school district develop the concept for the new school included architect Corgan Associates, Inc. and consultant IEG Engineers.