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FES is First Net-Zero School in WI

Oregon School District’s Forest Edge Elementary is First Net Zero School in Wisconsin

After one full year of operation, the building generated as much energy as it used

September 1, 2021 (Oregon, Wis.) - The Oregon School District joins an elite group of forward-looking national organizations with their new Forest Edge Elementary School. Completed in 2020, the 126,580 square foot facility has officially become the first Net Zero Energy (NZE) school in Wisconsin.

“Our Board and District has a long-standing commitment to being leaders in education and environmental stewardship,” said Dr. Leslie Bergstrom, Oregon School District Superintendent. “With that in mind, we focused on creating the best design for student learning that also incorporated technologies to efficiently use and conserve energy.”

Making Forest Edge a net zero facility was possible based on innovative approaches for several systems:

  • Ninety geothermal wells extend 406 feet into the ground and feed electric water-source heat pumps that heat and cool the building very efficiently. By reducing the building's heating, cooling, and electrical demands, the overall energy intensity is greatly reduced.
  • Installation of a solar array that includes 1,704 solar panels producing 646 kW on the school's roof.
  • Electrochromic glass automatically tints exterior windows to manage solar gains and improve occupant comfort.
  • A state-of-the art 125kW battery was installed to store some of the energy when the panels produce more than the school needs. This excess energy can be deployed back into the school strategically to manage other energy demands. Even more impressive is that when there is excess energy the school will not need, they are able to sell the energy back to the utilities and add it to the grid. 
  • No natural gas serves the building.

“It has been a privilege to lead a project that will offer great learning opportunities for students and have such a positive impact on the environment,” added Business Manager, Andy Weiland. “In addition, our investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability will save the District approximately $60,000 annually.”

The school includes a variety of learning tools to help students learn about sustainability. Viewing areas showcase the green roof and solar arrays, educational environmental graphics describe elements of the school, and monitors display a real-time energy dashboard with ongoing energy performance compared to the net zero energy target. 

Thank you to our design and construction partners, Bray Architects, HGA, and J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., who helped support the District throughout the planning, design, and construction process.

The District is planning an official grand opening event on Tuesday, September 28 beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5:45 p.m., followed by an open house with self-guided tours until 7:30 p.m. 

Read more local news coverage below:

Fitchburg Star
Oregon Observer
WKOW Channel 27