Skanska Completes Net-Zero Elementary School in D.C. Region

By Eric Althoff

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—International development and construction firm Skanska has finished up its work on the new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, the first net zero-ready school for the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) system, located just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital.

The 150,000-square-foot school is located on the same site as a previously existing 65,000-square-foot school. The new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School will be home to students ranging from pre-K to 5th grade.

Inside, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School hosts art and music rooms as well as modern classrooms. The exterior features newly laid turf fields, basketball courts, playgrounds as well as a student drop-off area. Furthermore, locating the school’s parking underground increases the amount of recreational area on the outside—a premium in the DMV—while simultaneously fashioning even more green space to surround the new building.

The net-zero energy model means that the power generated for the school itself will be matched by the energy actually used by the facility. These types of schools have been shown to consume significantly less energy as opposed to those that rely on a more traditional power-needs structure.

Among the net-zero design features being utilized at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School are a geothermal system beneath the artificial athletic field turn, which uses the earth’s natural ability to cool or heat a building. Additionally, the school’s bathrooms will utilize low-flush toilets and low-output sinks. The HVAC system takes advantage of natural sunlight and ventilation to assist with airflow and temperature regulation as well.

Skanska worked at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in association with architect of record DLR Group to realize the educational project.

“Skanska is a leader in sustainable construction, and it is our privilege to partner with ACPS to deliver this modern and energy efficient building to the Alexandria community,” Dale Kopnitsky, general manager and executive vice president responsible for Skanska’s Washington, D.C., building operations, said of the project. “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.”

Skanska’s other educational construction projects in the greater Washington, D.C., area include George Mason University’s Life Sciences and Engineering Building in Prince William County. The company has also built VHC Health’s Outpatient Pavilion in Arlington; 17xM, an 11-story, 334,000-square-foot office building in Washington; OZMA, a 12-story, mixed-use development with 275 luxury apartments in Washington; 3901 Fairfax, a 190,000-square-foot nine-story office building in Arlington; and Heming, a 28-story, 410-unit luxury apartment building in Tysons.

Skanska continues to innovate in terms of sustainable construction and development. The firm was founded more than 135 years ago, and operates in Scandinavia, greater Europe and the United States. Their U.S. operations are headquartered in New York, and the firm hosts 29 total offices around the country.