HMFH Architects

Easing the Pathway Towards a Net-Zero Energy School

Though the benefits of a net-zero or net-positive energy school are essential in the pursuit of a healthier, more sustainable future, the pathway to this outcome can appear challenging with many unknowns. Drawing from our recent experience designing the new net-positive Fales Elementary School, HMFH sustainability leader Gary Brock AIA, LEED AP BD+C outlines five steps to help achieve net-zero energy goals in a recent article published in Facility Executive.

When planning new schools, a key question is how to best achieve maximum carbon reduction, energy efficiency, and community health. Fortunately, opportunities available today to reach a net-zero energy — or even a net-positive energy outcome — make these goals not only feasible, but achievable.

What’s changing?  The path forward for highly sustainable outcomes, including net-zero energy (NZE) schools, is getting easier. We see two related reasons:

The life cycle cost of NZE is steadily improving. Not only are utility costs continuing to rise, but ever-improving performance, availability, and options for sustainable design components drive up-front costs down.

This more beneficial economic equation, coupled with a growing concern over climate change, is creating a steady rise in community action plans and general community support for NZE and clean energy initiatives.

Fales Elementary School, a net-positive energy school project in the Westborough, MA, is an example of these advancements. Opened in November 2021, the school is projected to generate 11.6% more on-site energy annually than required to operate the all-electric school.

Based on this experience designing and building the Fales Elementary School and other recent projects, we identified lessons learned to help guide facilities executives and their project partners to net-zero energy (NZE) success.”

For insight on these 5 actionable steps, read the full article here.