Zero Energy Public Buildings in the Midwest

school entrance

Net-zero energy (NZE)buildings come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in every climate zone. The Midwest is home to many NZE buildings, and public buildings are helping to lead the way.

The New Buildings Institute compiled the 2016 List of Zero Net Energy Buildings report, which lists the current net-zero energy buildings across the country. Below are a few Midwestern NZE public buildings discussed on a recent MEEA policy webinar.*

District Three (D3) Police Station - Cincinnati, Ohio

When starting this new construction project, function was the highest priority for the City of Cincinnati followed by the energy efficiency of the building. Net-zero energy became the choice for the City of Cincinnati when they discovered that a NZE design would not cost any more than the original project budget, which aimed to achieve LEED Silver. It is currently “the only self-generating net-zero police station in the country,” with 40 geothermal wells, 329 kW solar PV, LED lighting, high insulation values in the walls and roof, highly-efficient bulletproof glass and stormwater retention. The building is over-performing its predicted energy targets.

Richardsville Elementary School - Bowling Green, Kentucky

Opening in 2010, the 72,000-square-foot building was the first net-zero energy school in the U.S. (the second largest NZE building in the U.S. at the time). It boasted a 75% energy reduction with an Energy Use Index (EUI) of 18.2 and 348 kW of solar PV.

Locust Trace AgriScience Center - Lexington, Kentucky

The 47,100-square-foot building houses a career and technical high school with curriculum focusing on agriculture. It was designed to be net-zero energy and utilizes 175 kW of solar PV. It reduced energy consumption by 78% over typical construction and has an EUI of 16. In addition, it is net-zero in waste disposal through the use of nearby constructed wetlands and also utilizes rainwater collection. The building opened in 2011 and won a 2013 National Green Ribbon School award.


*On May 31, MEEA held the “Bringing Net-Zero Energy to Public Buildings” webinar with Amy Cortese from the New Buildings Institute, Michael Forrester from the City of Cincinnati and Tony Hans from CMTA Engineering. If you were unable to attend, or would like to share the presentation with others, please follow this link and register to gain access to the presentation.