Sharing Architecture: Middle Schoolers Learn about Net-Zero Design in Arlington

By Phil Donovan, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

I recently had the unique experience of dusting off my construction boots and entering the classroom to teach six periods of middle school students what it means to build a net-zero energy school right in their own backyard. Students at Williamsburg Middle School (housed next door to the currently under-construction Arlington Elementary School) had the opportunity to learn about the design of net-zero buildings and then tour the nearby construction site, which allowed them to connect tangible sights and sounds with concepts learned indoors.

The students captivated my imagination with their questions and insights regarding building design and validated design intentions with respect to the school as a teaching tool. Students handled raw building materials, investigated 3-D printed models of the building, and made connections between their spaces of learning and the global energy realm. I learned that today’s middle school student is technically savvy and mindful of their carbon footprint. These courses of instruction will continue throughout the construction of the new school building and be integrated into the curriculum for middle school technology students.

More information about Phil’s time in the classroom at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington, VA can be found here:

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