Forest Edge Elementary School

Wisconsin’s first net zero school connects students to the building’s sustainable features and is a beacon of pride for its community.

Need

A new K-6 school to house a growing student population and a building that would produce as much energy as it consumed

Solution

An innovative building with flexible learning spaces, ample daylight, and state-of-the-art sustainable infrastructure

Result

A verified net positive energy building that leverages its sustainable features as teaching tools


Awards

  • American School & University Magazine Outstanding Design Award
  • The Daily Reporter Top Project Award
  • Learning By Design Outstanding Project
A view of Forest Edge’s main entry

Fact Sheet

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Location

Fitchburg, WI

Size

126,600 sq ft

Construction Cost

$35,000,000

Client Type

Net Zero Energy

Making public architecture more sustainable

When an experienced architecture firm like Bray connects with a passionate community, an ambitious project like Forest Edge is possible – even in the public sector.

fifth grade resource area featuring thermal energy graphics with screen

Design Features

Connecting learning, sustainability, and community

Forest Edge is a true 21st-century learning environment. Its design features include:

  • Resource areas that allow teachers to extend classrooms
  • Lightweight and portable furniture
  • Ample windows and three courtyards to provide natural light
  • A visible main entrance and extended pedestrian plaza
  • Environmental branding that highlights natural energy resources
  • Interactive digital screens for students to monitor the building’s energy performance
Aerial view of school featuring solar panels on roof

Sustainable Features

An investment that pays dividends for decades

Forest Edge is the largest net zero verified education building in the United States, at the time of verification. We got there with the help of:

  • 90 geothermal wells connected to electric water-source heat pumps, which moderate the building’s temperature and reduce the electrical demand from its heating and cooling systems
  • An array of 1,704 solar panels on the building’s roof, which produces 646 kW of electricity
  • A state-of-the art 125 kW battery for storing excess energy produced by the solar panels that can be released during high-demand times or sold back to the utility company
  • Elimination of natural gas service on the building’s site

Testimonial

Bray’s response to everything was, ‘Let’s give it a try. Let’s see how it would work.’ Their feedback never felt like, ‘Oh, we’re the experts, this is how you do it.’ It was truly collaborative, and a really nice partnership.
Kerri Modjeski
Principal, Forest Edge Elementary School
Cafeteria featuring ceiling panels with circle lights
Staircase and seating area with branding on wall - art gallery from students
Lockers and activity space featuring Wisconsin graphic on wall and staircase
Kindergarten cubbies featuring graphic on wall
Discovery center and library space with curved furniture and brand colors
kindergarten playground

let’s get
to work

No question is too big – or too small – for our team. We’ve been helping communities inspire and grow since 1962, and we’d love to partner with you as you build your community’s future.