Crossfield Elementary School Named “Best Project” in EPA Challenge

Crossfield Elementary School, Fairfax County Public Schools, Herndon, Virginia

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Crossfield Elementary School “Best Project” in the major renovation category of their 2021 ENERGY STAR® Decarbonize Your Design Challenge. The EPA selected winners based on “exemplary energy design strategies that will prevent CO2 emissions now and well into the future.”

Amid a transformative renovation and expansion, Fairfax County’s Crossfield Elementary School earned the EPA’s certification as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR (DEES). With an ENERGY STAR Design Score of 88 out of 100, the energy efficiency of the facility’s design ranks it among the top 12% of K-12 schools nationwide.

Moseley Architects, Stickler Associates and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) began collaborating on this project in 2020. Approximately 89,000 square feet of renovations include updates to the HVAC systems, lighting fixtures and exterior windows to improve the school’s learning environment and maintain a high level of energy efficiency. Additions totaling roughly 12,000 square feet will relocate the administrative suite to the front of the building and expand the media center.

Director of Energy Analytics and Informed Design John Nichols performed an energy benchmarking early in design to determine the energy use intensity (EUI) targets that would need to be met to achieve DEES certification. This study was followed by extensive energy modeling of different design options to achieve those targets. The findings of these studies helped inform a wide range of designers’ selections, including the best type of window glazing to balance both energy performance and natural daylight harvesting.

John described the team effort that went into making this award possible.

“I’m thrilled to see the Crossfield Elementary School project recognized with both DEES certification and the ‘Decarbonize Your Design’ award. Improving energy performance is inherently more challenging on renovation projects than on new construction since our designers aren’t starting with a blank sheet of paper. But considering the vast number of existing buildings throughout the country, these renovations will be a critical part of reducing our owners’ utility bills and CO2 emissions. This project shows what is possible with a little bit of creativity and teamwork.”

John Nichols, Director of Energy Analytics and Informed Design

By utilizing shared ENERGY STAR tools and resources throughout both design and operations, Moseley Architects and FCPS ensured that their conversations surrounding energy use were framed using a common language with easily understood metrics and targets. Energy efficiency strategies include the following:

  • Envelope: enlarged window openings with insulated 1-inch low-e glazing, new roof with R-30 roof insulation
  • HVAC: new variable refrigerant flow (VRF) mechanical system with dedicated outside air units (DOAU) and air-side energy recovery
  • Lighting: new LED fixtures throughout the entire school with daylight sensors in daylit spaces

The resulting design renovation delivers 150% more outside air for ventilation and 160% more natural daylight through the classroom windows while still achieving high levels of energy performance and EPA standards for DEES certification.

Phased construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023. Substantial completion is currently estimated for 2024.


ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations—including more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500®—rely on their partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped American families and businesses avoid more than $450 billion in energy costs and achieve four billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. More background information about ENERGY STAR can be found at: