Celebrating Maryland’s First Net Zero School

This month the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) passed a major milestone for sustainable school construction and energy efficiency by opening the state’s first net zero school, the new Wilde Lake Middle School.

I was pleased to see the smiling faces of so many of our staff, families, community members and government officials who joined in the ribbon-cutting celebration on Sunday. Together, we can share in the pride of launching what is set to be the most cost effective and energy efficient school in the state.

With County and state support, including a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration, HCPSS replaced the aging Wilde Lake Middle School. The new building is a larger modern facility, which also accommodates the anticipated student population increase in Columbia. The net zero school generates as much energy as it uses over the course of a year as a result of building system efficiencies and on-site renewable energy sources, including solar and geothermal power.

The school offers a green learning environment with natural daylight, enhanced classroom acoustics, improved indoor air quality, thermal comfort and opportunities to integrate green features into the school’s curriculum. From a construction perspective, as a green school, the building conserves energy, water and materials, thus reducing negative impacts on human health and the environment. This kind of capital investment can also defray operating expenses.

The Wilde Lake Middle School is the latest example of HCPSS’ commitment to sustainability, as recognized in Policy 6080. HCPSS is working toward earning a U.S. Green Building Council LEED “Gold” designation for the building. HCPSS is the only school system in the state to pursue all new school constructions and full systemic renovations to be LEED “Certified” or better.

The new Wilde Lake Middle School represents HCPSS’ commitment to creating healthy learning environments that engage and inspire students. This would not be possible without the dedication of our talented staff, especially in Facilities, Construction and School Planning. I also congratulate principal Anne Swartz and her entire team for their smooth transition to the new facility and their enthusiasm throughout the entire process.

You can learn more about the new Wilde Lake Middle School on our website, or in stories by the Baltimore Sun, WJZ TV and WBAL TV. I also invite you to watch the video or view photos of our ribbon-cutting festivities.