The architects and engineers had sweated over the details of the energy consumption at Richardsville Elementary School in Bowling Green, Ky., in an effort to deliver a net-zero-energy building. But after the facility opened its doors to students in 2010, the engineers who were monitoring the facility’s energy numbers were dismayed by an unplanned and unwanted spike in electricity that threatened their net-zero goals. Had they miscalculated their energy projections or used wrong ...

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