Arlington, VA

Arlington Public Schools Discovery Elementary School

Scope of Services
Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection (EP/FP) Engineering

Discovery Elementary School, a new pre-K to 5 school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus, is the first new elementary school built in Arlington, Virginia, in 11 years and the first project of a 10-year capital improvement plan. The primary goal was to design the best place for learning — an inspiring space that is safe, comfortable, and healthy. As a net-zero energy building, it also sets a new standard for sustainability and innovation for the county’s future schools.

2RW Project Case Study Main Image
  • Design for solar thermal water heating system in the solar learning lab. The lab’s photovoltaic and solar thermal collectors are connected to energy meters which students can access through an online dashboard. This lab enables the students to compare thermal and photovoltaic generation and experiment with how weather and angle affect energy production.
  • Plumbing design for waterless urinals and low-flow water fixtures
  • Design of service water heating system tied to the building geothermal system
  • Design of rainwater collection/storage system for school vegetable garden
  • Fire suppression system design
  • Electric power distribution and low voltage design

Discovery Elementary School is expected to achieve a return on investment in seven years. In every element of design including the solar learning lab, the building also serves as a conduit for learning, encouraging a new generation of environmental stewards as well as scholars.

Scope of Services
Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection (EP/FP) Engineering

OWNER: Arlington Public Schools

TIMEFRAME: 2012 – 2015

SIZE: 98,000 SF

COST: $35 million

  • Firs net-zero energy school in Virginia and the largest in the Mid-Atlantic region
  • Goal to use no more than one-third of the energy of the average elementary school
  • Waterless urinals
  • Ultra low-flow water fixtures
  • Solar array with interface to student learning lab
  • Rainwater harvesting for school vegetable garden


2017 – Top Ten, AIA Committee on The Environment
2016 – Project of Distinction, Association for Learning Environments
2016 – Honor Award, AIA Central Virginia
Fall 2016 – Honorable Mention, Learning By Design
2015 – Award of Excellence, Design Arlington Awards