by Devika Pal, age 16 - Simpson Street Free Press
Forest Edge Elementary School in Fitchburg is the first Net Zero Energy school in Wisconsin.
The school opened in September of 2021, and is part of the Oregon School district. The district’s Superintendent Dr. Leslie Bergstrom said the school’s goal is to create “the best design for student learning that also incorporated technologies to efficiently use and conserve energy.”
The school has implemented innovative features such as an electrochromic glass that tints exterior windows to gain natural sunlight; geothermal wells that heat and cool the school efficiently, and therefore reduce the amount of energy used. The school also has a 125kW battery that produces and stores excess energy, which can then be sold back to utilities and can be added to a grid. The building does not use any natural gas.
Students are taught about the sustainable practices of the school. They can view the solar panels and their green roof. Around the school, there are also dashboards depicting the continuous energy usage and performance of the school. School officials hope this will instill awareness and good habits in its student body. The school projects these new sustainable and renewable practices will save around $60,000 per year in energy costs for the school district.