Incorporating various energy-efficient features, Blackford School in San Jose has opened a "net-zero" multi-use building that produces as much or more energy than it uses.

The building, the first of eight planned by the Campbell Union elementary district, was financed by a 2010 voter-passed school bond. The multi-use building has a capacity of 500 people and includes a stage with a rear-projection system and built-in sound system, a food-service area and additional rooms. It incorporates sensors to turn off lights when the room is vacant or receives enough sunlight, enough windows to eliminate the need for electric lighting during the day, passive ventilation allowing warm air to escape from high windows, thick insulation and a white, light-reflecting roof with solar panels.

The building is oriented to prevent heat gain through windows.

The Campbell Union elementary district aims to reduce its energy consumption by 60 percent and is building similar "grid-neutral" buildings at Castlemont and Sherman Oaks elementary schools.