Odyssey Elementary, slated to become the greenest school in the state, opened its doors to students August 25 in Woods Cross, Utah.  The building can function as a net-zero facility, generating all its own electricity, and is on track to achieve LEED-Gold certification.

The owner, Davis School District, is pushing the envelope for 21st century schools. In traditional schools, teachers are often limited in their pedagogical approaches by the classroom and the building in which they teach.

Not so at Odyssey. The school has flexible spaces that can be easily moved or adjusted to meet student and teacher needs. It was designed around the theme “Bodies in Motion: The Animal Kingdom,” and highlights animals (including humans) as they run, jump, swim and fly.

Odyssey Elementary makes use of highly efficient building systems that are responsive to each another. More than 1,200 solar panels on the building convert the sun’s energy into direct-current electricity for the building’s use.  This includes a photovoltaic array on the roof as well as solar panels that double as sunshades over the windows on the south side of the building.

The building has an interactive-energy dashboard where children can learn about their school’s energy use. They will be able to see the exchange of heat between the earth and the building and what areas in the building are using energy and how much. QR codes around the building feature videos explaining how the energy-saving features work.

Odyssey Elementary stands as proof that a net-zero school need not cost any more than a traditional school. The children who are educated at Odyssey will study and witness first hand how energy works, how it is used and how it can be harnessed most effectively.

An interactive open house was held for students, parents and other interested parties before the start of the 2014 school year. 

The school was designed by Utah’s VCBO Architecture and constructed by Hughes General Contractors.