7x7x7: Design Energy Water is an innovative program by the Division of the State Architect that encouraged California school districts to develop long-range master plans that reduce energy and water consumption on campuses and improve the quality of educational spaces. The State Architect engages seven architectural firms to develop seven conceptual case studies that reduce school energy and water consumption and result in better learning environments on seven different types of campuses (six K-12 schools and a community college). The seven campuses are representative of typical building types from different eras constructed across California’s varied climate zones. The purpose and primary goal of this program is to enable all existing K-14 facilities to be zero energy by 2030.
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Miscellaneous electrical loads (MELs) are building loads that are not related to general lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and water heating, and typically do not provide comfort to the building occupants. MELs in commercial buildings account for almost 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. On an individual building level, they account for approximately 25% of the total electrical load in a minimally code-compliant commercial building, and can exceed 50% in an ultra-high efficiency building such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Research Support Facility (RSF). Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building. A complex array of technologies that measure and manage MELs has emerged in the marketplace. Some fall short of manufacturer performance claims, however. NREL has been actively engaged in developing an evaluation and selection process for MELs control, and is using this process to evaluate a range of technologies for active MELs management that will cap RSF plug loads. Using a control strategy to match plug load use to users' required job functions is a huge untapped potential for energy savings.
On December 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of a new partnership to jump-start zero energy schools across the country. The Zero Energy Schools Accelerator enables states and school districts alike to design, construct, and operate these cutting-edge, energy-saving schools. This press release highlights the importance of the Accelerator by featuring a completed zero energy school, Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia.