DC Public Schools Benjamin Banneker High School

Washington, DC

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) rebuilt a new 178,000 square foot magnet high school, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, in the heart of one of the larger underserved communities in DC. The 21st century learning environment opened in 2021 and is accommodating approximately 800 students from large minority populations from all parts of the city with state-of-the-art labs, classroom and educational spaces. The old high school campus will be reserved and utilized for a new Shaw Middle School.

This project was designed and constructed under the Design/Build procurement strategy reducing the timeline for completion, enabling DCPS to quickly provide a new high school for the community at Banneker. The new school includes an expanded learning commons in the center of the building, creating a central location of learning collaborations to inspire creativity as well as modernized informal learning spaces and other student spaces such as performing arts spaces, physical education, admin space, auditorium and a central dining space.

The new school was designed as a high performance, energy-efficient facility that produces onsite, carbon-free renewable energy sufficient to offset the school’s annual energy use via a photovoltaic solar panel array. The building maximizes natural daylight modeling, acoustics, high performance envelope and an energy efficient geothermal HVAC system to provide high indoor air quality. CMTA’s Commissioning team performed envelope air leakage testing via fan pressurization and non-invasive envelope diagnostic testing including thermography services to ensure envelope high performance criteria was met. The envelope air leakage rate obtained (0.088 cfm/sf) exceeded the high performance marker of 0.15cfm/sf by 40%. The building was modeled to achieve an EUI of 24 and after 12 months of data the building is operating at an EUI of 19.8, a 15% improvement from the original design.

The MEP design focus of the building is centered on high performance. Similar to John Lewis Elementary School, Banneker Academic High School is becoming a national K-12 leader in sustainability. The facility has achieved LEED Platinum certification and the title of Washington D.C.’s first Zero Energy and Zero Carbon High School. As of 2022, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is the largest operating Zero Carbon School in the United States.