Buildings that make at least as much energy as they use are called “net-zero” (and “net positive” if they make more than they need). Nationwide, K-12 schools are leading a fledgling “net-zero” building boom that has grown from a few proof-of-concept structures a decade ago to hundreds of buildings completed or under construction.
Dozens of these ultra-green schools are going up in every sort of district – urban and rural, affluent and lower income, blue state and red state. Much of the advocacy for net-zero buildings has focused on environmental and economic incentives. K-12 schools run up a $6 billion energy tab every year, the Department of Energy reports – more than they spend on textbooks and computers combined, and second only to the cost of teacher salaries.
But the K-12 schools leading the net-zero charge are uncovering major educational benefits as well.