Replacement of the Oldest School in the PWCS with a New Net-Zero School

Occoquan Elementary School, the oldest school in Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS), is undergoing a transformation with the construction of a new, net-zero school building. Originally built as a two-room schoolhouse between 1867 and 1899, the current Occoquan Elementary building has been standing since 1927, holding the title of the oldest public school still in use in PWCS.

The new Occoquan Elementary building is designed to accommodate 850 students and will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With sustainable features such as solar panels, geothermal wells, LED lights, and ample natural light through large windows, the building aims to achieve a net-zero rating by balancing greenhouse gases produced and removed from the atmosphere.

In addition to its eco-friendly design, the new school building will serve as an educational tool for students. It will include an outdoor classroom overlooking the solar panels, a display showing energy consumption, and collaborative spaces. The grade levels will be organized as layers of a forest, with each level representing a different grade from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Principal Michael “Buddy” Lint, who has been leading Occoquan for seven years, is eager for the new building to open. He expressed the community’s excitement about having the first net-zero school in the county, calling it a great honor and a source of pride for the community.

Construction of the new school is currently underway, with a completion date set for December 2025. The school will open to students in January 2026, alongside additional improvements to the school site, including a new recreational field.

Heather Diez, director of facilities for PWCS, emphasized the division’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She mentioned plans to incorporate the same sustainable technology and methods in other schools undergoing renovations, aiming to significantly reduce the division’s carbon footprint in line with PWCS’ dedication to environmental sustainability.