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Concrete Plays Key Role in Building Net Zero Schools

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Much has been said about the impressive expansion of Net Zero Energy Schools in Kentucky. In fact, at least one of these schools, Richardson Elementary School, is now in net positive territory. In other words, the Tennessee Valley Authority is now paying the Warren County School District for the electricity produced at the school by its photovoltaic solar array. Concrete is a large part of how this building has succeeded by not only increasing comfort and safety, but also as a component of its impressive energy efficiency results. Charlottesville, VA-based VMDO Architects successfully designed a Net Zero School for Arlington County, VA, for less than the county’s approved budget for a minimum, code-compliant structure. The recently-completed building was met with great fanfare and critical acclaim.

"We have reached a point in the advancement of building structures with ready mixed concrete that allows us to build schools that generate more electricity than they consume," said NRMCA Senior Director, Building Innovations, Gregg Lewis. "This means that utilities will actually write a check to the school district to buy the excess electricity produced, thereby offsetting the school’s other operating expenses."

While it is also possible to build net zero energy structures with other building materials, concrete provides the important added benefit of keeping our children safe from fire and natural disasters; they can shelter in place – a hallmark of resilience. Furthermore, when there is a disruption to the grid-supplied power from high winds or ice storms, these schools can continue to operate normally. This is the definition of resilience and sustainability.

"School districts that fail to build net zero energy schools are in essence neglecting their fiduciary responsibilities to tax payers," Lewis added.

For more information, contact Gregg Lewis at

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