The New, Net Zero Wilde Lake Middle School
Completed in January 2017, the new Wilde Lake Middle School is the first net zero energy school in Maryland. A net zero energy building 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, such as solar power. The new Wilde Lake Middle School is positioned to be the most energy conscious and efficient school in the state, furthering HCPSS’ commitment to environmental sustainability as a support for healthy learning environments.
The Wilde Lake Middle School project replaced an aging middle school with a larger modern facility and a capacity to serve 49 percent more students, approximately 760 compared to 500 previously. Nearly twice as large as the original school but using less than half the energy, the new building will be large enough to accommodate the anticipated increase in student population in Columbia. The new Wilde Lake Middle School was constructed directly behind the existing Wilde Lake Middle School, which will then be demolished to make space for the new school’s bus loop and parking areas.
Three construction options had been investigated–including a limited renovation and addition, a major renovation and addition, and a replacement school–to address the predicted increase in student population, the need to reallocate program spaces inside of the school and various systemic needs of the building. After reviewing the cost-benefit analysis, HCPSS decided to build a new facility based on lower life cycle costs, improvements required of the building and site, and the support provided by the Maryland Energy Administration’s Net Zero School Initiative grant.
Net Zero Construction
To be net zero, the Wilde Lake Middle School building’s architectural design is highly efficient considering building orientation, mass and scale. The building is powered by solar energy, the mechanical system is a highly efficient geothermal system with reduced HVAC usage, and the electric lighting is controlled by usage and responsive to daylight. School-based staff are trained to make the most of the energy efficient design.
The new Wilde Lake Middle School building is the first HCPSS school to earn a U.S. Green Building Council LEED “Platinum” designation. The school system has already earned LEED “Gold” designations for Atholton High School and Ducketts Lane Elementary School.