PG&E Zero Net Energy Training Center

The New Standard for Energy-Efficient Schools

  • Project: Zero Net Energy Showcase
  • Type: Energy Training Center
  • Scope: Single-Story Classroom Building
  • Completion Date: December 2012

Project Background

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and American Modular Systems (AMS) came together to create a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) demonstration classroom that gives school administrators and construction professionals a hands-on education about best-in-class green technologies, while providing innovative ideas for ZNE modular school design.

Engineered to achieve maximum energy efficiency and load reduction, the Gen7 ZNE classroom leverages advanced design, building operations and performance to exceed Title 24 energy standards an average of 46% statewide, before the addition of renewable energy. Equipped with roof-mounted 3.6 kW photovoltaic (PV) panels, the classroom becomes ZNE, generating as much energy as it consumes over a year and exceeding Title 24 requirements by more than 114% statewide.

AMS was selected to construct the PG&E demo classroom—which opened to the public December 13th, 2012—based on the proven energy performance of the Gen7 product line and the company’s ZNE project portfolio. Established in the 1970s, the Energy Training Center was the first of its kind, serving approximately 15,000 visitors annually and has been at the forefront of addressing California’s long-term energy goals through research, development and demonstration projects.


The Gen7 ZNE classroom needed to creatively combine practicality, teachability and sustainability in one user-friendly environment that could scale the learning curve for greening California’s schools. Effectively integrating the ZNE showcase into the Energy Training Center’s education outreach had to succeed on both macro and micro levels, helping the state meet its long-term energy goals while helping schools combat rising energy costs—a school’s second largest expense, after salaries.


To custom-design a state-of-the-art ZNE teaching classroom that gives education and construction professionals interactive experience with the latest energy-saving technology, helping them develop the knowledge necessary to create the next generation of energy- saving schools and buildings.


The showcase classroom sets a superior standard in energy performance, combining renewable energy with energy-efficient features to reduce electricity usage. An ultra-tight building envelope acts as a thermal barrier, regulating interior temperature and the amount of energy required to maintain thermal comfort. The latest technology controls, automates, monitors and manages the space. AV equipment, lights, shades and screens are all controlled using an intuitive, easy-to-use touchscreen that simplifies the classroom’s cutting-edge technology. An interactive dashboard along with custom signage displays the building’s energy production and consumption and educates visitors about the classroom’s innovative technology and features.