With more than 80 zero net energy (ZNE) schools operating or planned, California is leading in the nation in driving K‐12 schools and community colleges to ZNE performance. These projects represent high performance buildings that combine energy efficiency and renewable resources to produce at least as much energy as they consume annually. To honor early innovation and leadership in this market, New Buildings Institute (NBI), on behalf of California’s investor‐owned utilities (IOUs) have a ZNE awards and recognition program. The awards, now in their fourth year, showcase the people, buildings and policies that are driving this new standard for school environments.
2019 California ZNE School Leadership Awards
Awards were presented on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 during the Leadership Awards reception at the 2019 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit in Pasadena, California. Read about the 2019 winners
Individuals & Teams: Honoring the champions, individuals who inspire others on the path to ZNE and project teams that work effectively together to achieve ZNE goals.
Districts: Recognizing large and small districts that have created policies, programs, or plans that results in larger scale advancement of zero energy buildings.
Outstanding Buildings: Spotlighting ZNE verified, ZNE emerging and ultra-low energy projects at K-12 schools and community college campuses.
Eligibility, Selection & Application
Applications were due by September 23, 2019. For more details, read these Frequently Asked Questions.
Participation is open to individuals, teams, buildings, and districts involved in a ZNE project. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate either how their project is achieving or is on track to achieve ZNE performance or is providing leadership and a model for others to learn.
Past Award Winners
2018 California ZNE School Leadership Awards
Awards were presented on October 29, 2018 at the 2018 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit in Pasadena, California. Read about the 2018 winners
2017 California ZNE School Leadership Awards
Awards were presented on November 28, 2017 during the Leadership Awards reception at the 2017 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit in Pasadena, California. Read about the 2017 winners
2016 California ZNE School Leadership Awards
Awards were presented during the Leadership Awards reception at the 2016 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit in Pasadena, California. Read about the 2016 winners
Why ZNE schools?
With energy bills at California’s K-12 public schools totaling more than $700 million a year, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC) Consumer Energy Center, innovative energy-saving solutions are needed to manage costs. Schools built and renovated to ZNE performance have substantially lower energy costs and over time save money on energy bills that can be spent on students and programs.
K-12 schools and community colleges represent key opportunities for ZNE projects. New ZNE schools already exist in many states across the country and a variety of climate zones, with some of the best examples being built for the average costs of school construction. As local examples of the feasibility and benefits of ZNE continue to increase, schools are an important platform to educate the broader public about sustainability, and demonstrate a commitment to reducing climate impacts.
California has bold goals for ZNE that will significantly reduce carbon emissions from the school sector and create substantial savings on operating expenses leaving more financial resources for programs. The state is the undisputed leader in this area and is building momentum to transform schools. According to NBI’s 2018 Getting to Zero Status Update, California has over 200 buildings that are targeting zero net energy, with education buildings as the leading building type pursuing this goal.
Background on Proposition 39 ZNE Schools Pilot Project
The California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan has set ambitious goals for achieving zero net energy (ZNE) for all new commercial buildings by 2030. To support these ambitious state goals, a Proposition 39 ZNE School Retrofit Pilot Program is providing California’s existing schools ZNE financial resources that can help transform some of the state’s K-12 and community college buildings to ZNE. The ZNE Schools Awards program and workshop are part of this Proposition 39 pilot effort and is supported by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company. The Proposition 39 ZNE School Pilot Program includes new schools case studies, ZNE trainings, and financial and technical support for a variety of school retrofit demonstration projects to showcase how existing K-12 school and community colleges can be transformed to ZNE performance.
Questions? Contact Reilly Loveland, Project Manager, by email with any questions about this program.
This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission, through a contract awarded to New Buildings Institute. The trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners.