We asked Firstfloor Energy Positive manager and architect, Robbie Ferris, to answer a series of questions about the world of energy-positive schools and the work of Firstfloor Energy Positive. Read on to learn what Robbie Ferris has to say about what energy-positive schools are and how they differ from traditional schools.
An energy-positive school is a school building that generates more electricity than it consumes. It’s different than traditional schools because we first and foremost design a building that uses very little energy. An energy-positive school will use somewhere between 60-70% less energy than a traditional school, and then we use solar panels to generate electricity. Our energy positive schools generate anywhere from 10 to 70 or 80% more electricity than they consume.
Energy-positive schools are very high tech buildings, they reduce operating costs (energy costs and maintenance costs), and because they’re energy positive, they can become a teaching tool. We started EnergyWISE clubs with one of our strategic partners in our schools, and the students become the stewards of the building. They become the ambassadors of the building, teaching not only other folks in the building but visitors to the building about how an energy-positive building operates. That is how the school reduces energy consumption, how it generates electricity, so it’s a pretty exciting way to integrate students into the process. These are students who are interested in being engineers; they’re the next generation of contractors and architects, so the building becomes an incredible teaching tool.