John Lewis Elementary School

Washington, DC

Awards of Merit, K-12 Education and Sustainability

Submitted By: Perkins Eastman DC

Owner: DC Department of General Services

Lead Design Firm/Interior Designer: Perkins Eastman DC

General Contractor: Gilbane Building Construction Company/Saxon Collaborative Construction Joint Venture

Civil Engineer: Bowman Consulting

Structural Engineer: Yun Associates

MEP Engineer: CMTA

The effort to create Washington, DC’s first Net Zero Energy school was a lesson in perseverance, as the project team faced COVID-related material shortages and absenteeism, and permitting delays that shrank the original nearly two-year-long baseline schedule to just sixteen months. In response, the team ensured that all building materials were ordered well in advance of receiving the project’s building permit. As work proceeded, each subcontractor participated in regular material status updates to prevent and mitigate potential supply chain issues.

Orienting the building along an east-west axis will help achieve a 9% reduction in energy consumption, and maximize natural light in the instructional spaces. Other sustainability measures include the building envelope’s innovative insulated metal paneling, which eliminates the need for an air barrier system and offers long-term durability. The vast majority of the steel used for the panels comes from recycled materials, while the insulation material typically meets or exceeds current energy codes. Installation of the panels required navigating around interior and exterior corners within the building, as well as working around curtainwalls and the stonefront façade.

Complementing the building envelope’s thermal and airtight performance is a geothermal system that will save more than a quarter-million dollars in long-term operating expenses. The building is designed with a 30% increase in ventilation to create an indoor environment that enhances cognitive function through reduced carbon-dioxide levels.