Renovating existing school buildings to zero energy performance is often achievable. In addition to upgraded systems and long-term cost savings, the result is a superior learning environment and a healthier facility for students, faculty and staff.
The case studies below provide details on two zero energy renovations of schools we supported under PG&E’s Proposition 39 ZNE School Retrofit Pilot.
NEWCASTLE SCHOOL SACRAMENTO, CA
The Newcastle Elementary / Charter School District is in the foothills northeast of Sacramento, California. The school site is of the 1950’s vintage with some slight architectural modifications over time. This Newcastle Elementary School site has just over 30,000 square of facilities and is relatively efficient, despite its single pane glass and likely quite low levels of insulation.
The school was originally designed with clerestory windows, which would have provided daylighting, but were painted over years ago or boarded up. Large “light shelves” fronted the windows, mostly loaded with ductwork. Exterior overhangs extend in the plane of the interior light shelves and the building had an HVAC rooftop in need of replacement.
Image: Sunshades and skylights at Newcastle Elementary School
EGAN MIDDLE SCHOOL
LOS ALTOS, CA
Egan Junior High School renovated its facility in 2018 to achieve zero net energy (ZNE) on a source energy basis. This project enrolled in the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Proposition 39 ZNE Schools Retrofit Pilot for technical assistance to help the school meet its aggressive ZNE goals. The project involved implementing these measures to achieve its ZNE goal:
Replacing the existing combustion heating package air handler units with new heat pump air handling units.
Retrofitting all lighting in the building
Installing daylighting controls in classrooms to continuously maintain the optimal fixed lighting levels
Replacing the existing prefabricated skylights with new skylights
The ZNE school project was limited to the main administrative and classroom buildings. PG&E used one of its technical assistance providers to offer measurement and verification (M&V) services.