Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

Richardsville Elementary – 1st Net Zero Elementary School in USA

Richardsville Photo 02

by Brent SauserRichardsville Photo 04

If you were to hazard a guess regarding where the location of the first Net Zero elementary school is, what would you say?  Chicago?  New York?  Miami? Boston?  LA?  Washington D.C?  If so, you would be wrong.  You would have to travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to find Richardsville Elementary School . . . the first totally Net Zero school in the USA.  Richardsville Elementary School was designed with six major Net Zero goals in mind:Richardsville Photo 01

  • High-profile building envelope
  • Daylighting
  • Geothermal HVAC and hot-water generation
  • On-site solar panel array
  • Energy Star-rated kitchen
  • Efficient operation and maintenance plan

Designed by Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects and completeRichardsville Photo 03d in August of 2010, the facility features:

  • Capacity of 600 students
  • Total area of 82,000 sf
  • Total cost $14.4 million
  • Cost per/sf = $175.61

Not only do the students and faculty enjoy an environmentally healthy and clean facility, but can boast of not having to pay a single power bill, saving tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the school year. 

Richardsville Elementary School was completed 2 1/2 years ago.  If Net Zero could be achieved then, just think of what we can do today.  More options, better technology, for less cost.  WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR!

Please click on the following articles to learn more about this Net ZRichardsville Photo 05ero school.


It was a very hot day as we made these videos at the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School. But, it was well worth the time, effort, . . . and sweat to experience a Net Zero facility of this size and scale.  Click on the short video below to begin a brief tour of the facility:


It was amazing to see the 12 wind generators working while we were there.  Although they only generate about 1% of the total energy needs, they are still visually impressive and make a strong statement regarding the accessibility of on-site renewable energy resources. 


The entire roof is covered with solar panels that generate over 582 kW of renewable energy to the school.  What isn’t used is given back to the power grid. 


Please click on Case Studies to read more about the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School Net Zero building.  This is not fantasy or SCI-FI. This is real. This is now. This is Net Zero!

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