Resolution Regarding a Net Zero Energy Ninth Elementary School and the expansion of Brookline High School

Petitioner: Werner Lohe, TMM13; Alan Chris, TMM4; Kathleen Scanlon, TMM3

Annual Town Meeting, May 2017

Brookline was one of the first communities in Massachusetts to address climate change, adopting its first Climate Action Plan in 2002. In 2012, it accepted Massachusetts' target for greenhouse gas emissions - the reduction in emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. See "2012 Climate Action Plan," p. 9 ( In part in response to this statement of our community's environmental values, recent school construction (i.e., the Runkle School and the Devotion School) has achieved high standards of energy efficiency. Similarly, in the Educational Plan for the Ninth Elementary School at Baldwin, the School Committee has stated its strong commitment to a state-of-the-art school. Nevertheless, overall town-wide progress toward reduced emissions has been slow, not yet approaching the rate needed to reach our goal. See, generally, "Selectmen's Climate Action Committee Report to Town Meeting, Spring 2015," p. 2 (

New construction of any sort inevitably leads to a slight increases in emissions. Therefore, communities throughout Massachusetts and New England have begun to address that reality by designing "Net Zero Energy" (NZE) schools, that is, schools that minimize on-site energy use as much as possible, and offset that energy use with renewable energy generated on site, with the goal of equalizing, on an annual basis, energy consumed and renewable energy generated on site. (Examples of such schools are the Martin Luther King School, Cambridge, MA, the King Open School, Cambridge, MA, and the Pell Elementary School, Newport, RI.) Schools such as this not only address climate change, but typically save money by reducing energy costs. Brookline now has an opportunity to design its own NZE school.

About ten years ago, Brookline improved its design process for municipal buildings by including consideration of "environmental and sustainability goals and objectives, includ[ing] design and construction practices that explicitly consider Green technologies." Bylaws, section 7.3.2(a). Because of the Town's sound design practices and the Massachusetts School Building Authority's (MSBA) standards, the Runkle and Devotion projects have good energy performance, though they are not NZE. The Ninth Elementary School at Baldwin, however, is not subject to MSBA requirements, and no specific standards for energy performance have been set. This resolution provides direction to the design architects, under the supervision of the School Committee, the Building Commission, and the Board of Selectmen, by establishing Net Zero Energy as the community's goal for its new school. This goal encourages energy efficient building design, places a major focus on energy, and encourages building users to reduce their energy needs without compromising building programs or mission.

Official Town Meeting Vote Select Board Advisory Board

Favorable Action

Favorable Action

Favorable Action




Final Result:

Favorable Action

Community Organization Recommendations
PAX Green Caucus
Official Text of the Article

VOTED: That the Town adopt the following resolution:


Whereas our town, the nation, and the world are increasingly aware of the need to address climate change and of the importance of better protection of the environment in general, and

Whereas an international standard known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design of the United States Green Building Council) allows for a building's environmental and energy performance to be accurately measured and provides a benchmark to assist in designing a net zero energy building, and Whereas net zero energy LEED Platinum schools create an environment that supports student learning and health through improvements in daylighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, and classroom design, all of which have an impact on a child's ability to learn and a teacher's ability to teach, while saving energy, resources, and money, and

Whereas net zero energy LEED Platinum schools increase energy efficiency, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cost less to operate, utilize durable materials, reduce water and energy use, and provide other benefits, while providing an educational experience that transcends the classroom by creating opportunities for curriculum innovation and hands-on, project-based learning in which the building itself becomes an interactive teaching tool, and

Whereas decisions made now about the design of the Ninth Elementary School and the expansion of Brookline High School will determine each school's environmental footprint, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, for decades to come, and

Whereas the technical ability to create energy-efficient, high performing buildings has increased significantly by incorporating systems thinking into design processes, and

Whereas construction of new schools in Massachusetts and around the nation during the past five years has shown the feasibility and desirability of net zero energy schools, that is, schools in which the amount of energy delivered on an annual basis is less than or equal to the amount of renewable energy exported from the site, and

Whereas the most accurate measure of energy efficiency for a building is EUI (Energy Use Intensity), calculated by dividing total energy consumed annually by the gross floor area of the building,

Now therefore be it Resolved that in order for the Ninth Elementary School to be a significant advance toward a net zero energy school and consistent with the
projected energy efficiency results at the new Devotion School, it shall seek a minimum of LEED v4 certification at the Silver rating level, with a goal of achieving the Platinum rating level; and in addition it shall prioritize achieving points in the Optimize Energy Performance category and shall seek to achieve a minimum of 13 of the possible 16 points available in that category, with the goal of achieving 16 of the possible 16 points available in that category; and, finally, it shall seek to achieve at least an EUI of 30 kBTU/sq. ft./yr., with the goal of achieving an EUI of 25 kBTU/sq. ft./yr.,

And, be it further Resolved that while overall net zero energy is unlikely to be achieved for Brookline High School and even the degree to which the as-of-yet-undefined, expanded portion of the school can approach net zero energy design is currently uncertain, nevertheless, net zero energy principles shall be appropriately applied, to the extent feasible, during all design phases of Brookline High School.…