Skanska Completes First Net-Zero School in Alexandria


National construction firm Skanska has completed the redevelopment of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, the first net-zero school in Alexandria, Va. 

Located at 1101 Janneys Lane, the 150,000-square-foot school replaces a 65,000-square-foot building and will serve students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

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As a net-zero building, the amount of energy that will be produced on-site will match the energy used by the building and its occupants, according to the Rockville, Md.-based Skanska.

That energy will be generated by a closed-loop, underground geothermal system, which utilizes thermal energy to heat and cool the building. Other sustainable measures include paint, carpets and tile containing no or low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which protects children with asthma. The school’s bathrooms feature low-flush toilets and low-water-use sinks.

“The impact of this project will not only provide operational cost savings to the school district but create a healthier space for students to learn and thrive,” Dale Kopnitsky, general manager and executive vice president of Skanska’s Washington, D.C., building operations, said in a prepared statement.

The design of the building includes an underground parking garage, maximizing the campus’ recreational options and green space, Kopnitsky noted.

Net-zero K-12 schools generally cost less to operate as they consume 65 to 80 percent less energy than conventionally constructed schools, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Discovery Elementary School in Arlington became the first net-zero school in the region — and one of the first in the country — when it opened in 2016. In Washington, D.C., Banneker Academic High School and West/John Lewis Elementary School became the first schools in the District to be net-zero in 2021.

Around the U.S., more than 200 net-zero schools have either been completed or are underway, according to the New Buildings Institute

Other sustainable construction projects in Skanska’s portfolio include 17xM, an 11-story, 334,000-square-foot office building in Washington, D.C.; OZMA, a 12-story, mixed-use development with 275 luxury apartments in the District; and 3901 Fairfax, a 190,000-square-foot, nine-story office building in Arlington.

Keith Loria can be reached at