New MET Plans to be R.I.’s First Net-Zero School

By KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

NEWPORT, R.I. — Inside the East Bay MET School, green initiatives abound. In addition to the environmentally minded internships some students pursue, the school is focused on improving its recycling program and has a student-led Green Team that is currently growing herbs for the local community and advocate for a plastic bag ban.

Next door on York Street, a new building is under construction that will reflect the school’s commitment to the environment. Solar arrays built on and around the new school will provide 150 kilowatts of energy, enough for the building’s entire electric and heating needs, according to Elliot Krieger of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). The school will also harvest geothermal power in order to heat and cool a portion of the building.

When complete, the new East Bay MET School will be the first net-zero public high school in Rhode Island, Krieger said. The project’s cost savings haven’t yet been calculated, but by eliminating the school’s heating, cooling and electric expenses significant savings could be realized, he said.

Energy-efficiency measures will also be included. The new building will incorporate passive solar elements such strategically located balconies that will shade the building during warm weather and allow solar heat gain when it’s cold. Such element designs offset the necessity of active heating and cooling systems, Krieger said.

Other energy-saving measures will include LED lighting, coupled with room occupancy sensors; an energy-efficient elevator that uses half the power of a conventional elevator; and a highly insulated exterior envelope that will prevent heat transfer, according to Krieger.

Conservation of water is another hallmark of the new building. Rainwater will be collected for water plantings, and water-saving fixtures and toilets will be installed.

The building should be ready to host classes beginning this January, Krieger said.