Case Study: Zero Energy

NeoCity Academy STEM School

Kissimmee, FloridaSchool District of Osceola County

Florida's First Zero Energy School

NeoCity Academy located in Kissimmee Florida houses some of the best and brightest STEM students in Osceola County. Their mission is to develop students who believe the world can be a better place and that they can be the ones to make it happen. The design of NeoCity Academy is in alignment with this mission.

The Challenges

  • Increase student's cognitive ability without increasing energy usage
  • Provide a zero energy building without geothermal
  • Design a zero energy building in a challenging climate zone
  • Increase outside air flow 30% above code minimum
Created with Sketch.

This project provides a substantial operational costs avoidance allowing limited and precious operating dollars to be shifted to other areas. Created with Sketch.

Marc Clinch

Chief Facilities Officer - School District of Osceola County

The Solutions

To increase NeoCity Academy’s ability to succeed at their STEM mission, CMTA designed the building to be Zero Energy and meet rigorous WELL Building design standards, both are firsts for the State of Florida.

The building design increases student performance by utilizing strategies that are supported by research and data to contribute to student success. The building features wellness strategies for both HVAC and lighting. NeoCity Academy includes increased outside air ventilation in learning spaces to control peak carbon dioxide levels to increase student’s cognitive ability. Conditioning this outside air comes with an energy impact. Through innovative design, CMTA was able to fit this increased outside air into a zero-energy design. The lighting design includes both daylighting and LED light fixtures. This supports alertness during the day and are in alignment with our natural circadian rhythm

Geothermal is usually the best option for a zero-energy design. Soil conditions, however, were not ideal for a geothermal wellfield at the project location. CMTA overcame this by taking less efficient equipment and designing the control strategies to make it fit into the zero-energy design. 

Climate zone is a very important factor in achieving a zero-energy building. NeoCity Academy was built in one of the most hot and humid climates in the US. Demand control ventilation was utilized to reduce the amount of cooling and dehumidification necessary for outdoor airflow. By delivering outside air directly where the occupants are, CMTA was able to maintain increased airflow without expending excess energy while maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity levels.

Due to the buildings 3-story design, the available roof area to mount the PV panels is significantly reduced. The project teams first goal was minimized the energy consumption to an EUI of 20.3, significantly below the county’s other schools. The roof was not large enough to mount all the panels, so the dining and food truck canopies were also integrated with PV panels on the roof.

Phillip Donovan, AIA, Project Architect with Little Diversified Architects said of CMTA; “CMTA masterfully led the client through the evaluation and selection of a new type of mechanical system. Through expertise, data collection and a trade-off process, the team met the project goals while making the client very comfortable with the change.”

Collaborative Student Works Space

The “Mixer” is a large two-story area located adjacent to the entry that makes the building feel like it belongs more on a college campus. The space allows for social interaction, is inviting for group studies or just a place to relax and enjoy the outdoor views. The glass wall faces south and is shaded by a tall outdoor canopy which provides plenty of great natural light into the space without the heat. The Mixer area also communicates with a covered outdoor patio to allow students to venture outside the building and enjoy the fresh air throughout the day.

The Results

CMTA was honored to be a part of the NeoCity Academy project. Our knowledge delivered a project that increases student’s ability to learn and will outperform all other schools in Florida. The mix of traditional systems with new technology helped bring this performance to reality. All without a premium in first cost or energy usage.

This project is designed to be Zero Energy. The solar power system is expected to generate 365 kWh of energy while only consuming 346 kWh, making it Florida’s first Zero Energy building. We will continue to update actual results once the building’s commissioning is completed.

Production vs. Consumption - NeoCity

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