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Net Zero Construction for Great Education

Charter Builders in Dallas, a Balfour Beatty company, is the general contractor on the largest “Net Zero” school in the nation, located in Irving, Texas near Dallas.  Net Zero means that the facility, when completed in August, will generate sufficient power through its design and from its passive energy systems for the school to operate without using the grid.

Engineering News-Record (ENR) quotes Aaron Scates, vice president of operations for Charter Builders, the Dallas-based unit of Balfour Beatty Construction that is building Lady Bird.  Scates believes that net-zero schools will become more common in the future.  He stated:

“Buildings like this will play to being more frugal and economically stable.  On a middle school, electric bills can range from $20,000 to $40,000 a month.  A building that doesn’t have an electric bill creates more money for other opportunities.”

The ENR article also noted that “During construction, Charter harvested rain and produced power with solar panels on its construction trailer to create a mind-set of sustainability.”

The cost of the new school, named the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, is about 12% higher than a traditionally built school, but it will free up about $250,000 a year in power costs.  Those savings will pay dividends in the next 10-12 years when operating budgets in most school districts are strained to the limit.

DistrictAdministration, a journal for school district administrators, writes about the way the building itself will be used as an education tool for students who attend the school as well as others who will take field trips to it.  The journal quotes Scott Layne, assistant superintendent for support services in the Irving Independent School District.  Layne said:

“Many interactive features in the building will tie sustainability into the curriculum as well, including a learning laboratory where students can study the amount of energy being used in the classrooms around the school.”

You can read the articles to learn about other schools being built to take advantage of energy savings and more details about how these savings are being achieved.


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