flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Achieving a net-zero K-12 facility is a team effort

K-12 Schools

Achieving a net-zero K-12 facility is a team effort

Designing a net-zero energy building is always a challenge, but renovating an existing school and applying for grants to make the project happen is another challenge entirely.


By Jeff Oke, PE, LEED AP | IMEG Corp. | August 1, 2022
Net-zero energy school ext 1

Courtesy IMEG.

Designing a net-zero energy building is always a challenge, but renovating an existing school and applying for grants to make the project happen is another challenge entirely. IMEG recently had the opportunity to do just that, delivering a school district’s first net-zero facility. 

When the Park View Early Learning Center in Mount Prospect, IL, was chosen to house the River Trails School District 26 kindergarten, preschool, and administration office, it needed to be renovated for the first time since its construction in 1965. The facility’s failing systems and outdated infrastructure were no longer meeting the district’s needs, so it was redesigned and renamed Prairie Trails School. Following in the footsteps of other energy-efficient schools in the district—four of which earned ENERGY STAR® certification—the new early learning center was designed for optimized indoor air quality and building comfort. 

IMEG evaluated various HVAC and envelope options after conducting an energy model of the existing building and testing strategies and their impact on energy use and operational costs. The team ultimately designed an extremely tight and energy efficient envelope and an all-electric HVAC system with a variable refrigerant flow system coupled with dedicated outdoor air systems that meet the Passive House requirements for energy-efficient and comfortable indoor spaces. 

In order to offset the costs of the highly sustainable renovation, the school pursued a $2 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF), which requires the building to use net-zero energy. IMEG worked closely with FGM Architects, River Trail School District 26, Trane, and a Passive House consultant to predict energy use and how much electricity would be generated by the photovoltaic system, properly size the system, and then apply for the grant. 

The school initially received half of the grant at the beginning of the project. The team is now tracking the energy use data and trends in the completed building—adjusting usage as needed to continue to consume less energy than the photovoltaic system produces—and prove that the building is net zero. 

Other strategies employed to help the design achieve net zero include running the systems at a reduced rate when the building is unoccupied and keeping a strict schedule for the building automation systems. For example, the gymnasium systems run at a reduced rate not only when the building is unoccupied, but also during normal school hours when no students are in the space. 

The school will receive the remaining grant funds once the design has proved to be net zero for a full year. Tracking began in March 2022 and is showing positive trends upon initial evaluation. 

Net-zero ext 2
Courtesy IMEG.

 

More from Author

IMEG Corp. | Nov 16, 2022

SPC-4D: 7 reasons California hospital building owners should act now to meet seismic compliance

Seismic compliance with the applicable California building codes is onerous and disruptive for building owners, especially for a building in the heavily regulated sector of healthcare. Owners of older buildings that house acute care services have a big deadline on the horizon—Jan. 1, 2030, the cutoff date to upgrade their buildings to SPC-4D.

IMEG Corp. | Apr 19, 2022

6 trends to watch in healthcare design

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, IMEG’s healthcare leaders from across the country are seeing several emerging trends that are poised to have wide-ranging impacts on facility design and construction. Following are six of the trends and strategies they expect to become more commonplace in 2022 and the years to come. 

IMEG Corp. | Feb 18, 2022

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Comprehensive strategies to keep people and buildings safe

CPTED is so much more than surface-level protection; it encompasses multiple phases of design, social programs, colors, lighting, natural surveillance, natural access control, and even traffic curbing.

IMEG Corp. | Feb 1, 2022

Sustainable design solutions will power EV charging stations

As the EV market share has been recognized, MEP firms have been tasked with the responsibility of an entirely new design: charging stations.

IMEG Corp. | Nov 15, 2021

How to protect cannabis grow facilities from catastrophic power failure

Weather, forest fires, other natural events, and human error all can lead to losses of power.

IMEG Corp. | Nov 2, 2021

Key design considerations for designing the smart patient room

The complete patient experience encompasses the journey to the hospital, the care experience, and the trip back home. All these touchpoints come with an expectation.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category


K-12 Schools

School districts are prioritizing federal funds for air filtration, HVAC upgrades

U.S. school districts are widely planning to use funds from last year’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) to upgrade or improve air filtration and heating/cooling systems, according to a report from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The report, “School Facilities Funding in the Pandemic,” says air filtration and HVAC upgrades are the top facility improvement choice for the 5,004 school districts included in the analysis.



halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 



Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: