Discovery Elementary School is the largest Net Zero Energy elementary school ever built in the U.S., and the first in the Mid-Atlantic region. Discovery is on track to be LEED Platinum certified by the USGBC. From the earliest stages of project planning, the design team and Arlington Public Schools identified Net Zero Energy as a primary goal for Discovery, so considerations for site footprint, solar orientation, building construction, and energy use were given top priority.
Discovery’s sustainable features include 1,706 roof-mounted solar panels; three-ply built up roof with two layers of ENERGY STAR cool roof coatings; a geothermal well field; solar preheat of domestic hot water; 100 percent LED lighting; ideal solar orientation and shading; and exterior walls with high thermal mass using insulated concrete forms. Discovery’s solar photovoltaic array became operational in January 2016. Since April 2016, the school has been operating as a Net Zero energy building. Operating at an energy cost of $0.39 per square foot in its first year, Discovery’s energy cost is one-third the cost of other elementary schools.
Across the country, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 39 public schools, including five magnet schools and one charter school, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-four percent of the 2017 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body and 14 percent are rural. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 63 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.