Anderson Anderson Architecture has built a classroom in Hawaii that generates more energy than it consumes, making what they call a “energy positive” building. The term “energy positive” is being encouraged to replace “net zero” as the benchmark for environmental consciousness in architecture.
The classroom does use roof solar panels to generate energy, though the roof’s saw-tooth shape helps to that end. The slating, jagged design is often referred to as a factory roof, deriving from its use in the design of factories more than a century ago. With north-facing windows, this roof shape is particularly efficient at capturing daylight, and paired with lower-lying windows too, it provides ventilation for hot air to escape. Not to mention a good way to shed rain water. Before electricity was widespread, these roofs were the main way massive factories could get both light and ventilation. It fell out of favor, replaced by flat roofs, once electricity became cheaper, but Anderson says it’s still a remarkably effective design. “It’s a reminder some of those things were there for very good reasons,” he says.