California ZNE School Leadership Awards

With more than 60 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) is calling for submissions to the ZNE awards and recognition program. The awards, now in their third year, will showcase the people, buildings and policies that are driving this new standard for school environments.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! For the 2018 awards, NBI is seeking submissions by Friday, SEPTEMBER 21, 2018, in the following categories:

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

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.

The application is available here as well as a form for supporting data in downloadable Excel files.

Share the awards program information with this flyer for printing. For more details, read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Please submit applications to Reilly Loveland at [email protected].

2017 California ZNE School Leadership Awards

Awards were presented on Tuesday, November 28 during the Leadership Awards reception at the 2017 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit in Pasadena, California. New Buildings Institute (NBI) is administering the program on behalf of the IOUs and CPUC.

Read about the 2017 winners

2016 California ZNE School Leadership Awards

Winners were selected based on review and evaluation from a committee of advisers with experience in sustainable design, high performance buildings, and zero net energy.

Read about the 2016 winners

Why ZNE schools?

School and PV

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 Summer 2016 edition of the ZNE Watchlist, California has more than 100 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 or phone, 206-229-2539, 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.