In Portland, Maine, the chair of a building committee dreamed of a schoolhouse that could offset the transportation energy required for students to commute to class.
In Arlington, Virginia, a school architect argued he could reduce energy costs without increasing his budget.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the school district, inspired by a climate action plan adopted by the City Council, requested project proposals with a sustainable wish-list.
Each—through sometimes surprising turns—resulted in the pursuit of a net-zero-energy school. It is rare that a building trend is so closely tied to one building type. But aside from homes, more schools have targeted net-zero energy than any other sector. By one count, there are 191 school projects in North America that have pursued net-zero energy.
With their traditionally short operating calendars and lack of intensive energy loads, schools are relatively approachable candidates for net-zero-energy goals. But is there more behind this trend?