Net Zero Energy Buildings, or NZEBs, are buildings with very high energy efficiency standards, meaning they are constructed to run with very low energy needs. The buildings are much more energy efficient than standard structures, as they produce almost all of their electricity consumption through conservation and by generating power from renewable systems. Buildings are currently the most significant consumer of energy around the world (40 percent of all energy is used by buildings), but NZEBs are here to change that.
Helping To Fight Climate Change
In addition to being the world’s biggest consumer of energy, buildings are also the biggest CO2 emitters. In a time when climate change is a severe issue, NZEBs are a great place to start to reduce CO2 emissions globally. Zero energy buildings use renewable energy sources like solar electricity, and since there is no energy consumption, there are no CO2 emissions.
These buildings already exist and prove that there is a way to run buildings efficiently with zero energy consumption, and are already fighting against climate change. The European Union requires all new public buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2018. The EU and other agreeing countries have also set a goal to produce all buildings under nZEB (nearly zero energy building) standards by 2020. In the U.S., all new construction in California must meet NZEB standards by 2030.
Features of NZEBs
While many new zero energy buildings are being built, the energy-efficiency improvements can also be applied to existing buildings around the world. Some features of NZEBs include:
- High levels of insulation and sealing
- High-performance windows and doors
- Energy efficient lighting, electronics, and equipment
- Smart design, including floor plans, building size, window placement, landscaping, and exposure to sun
- Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro energy.
NZEBs not only bring many benefits to the environment, but they also provide many benefits to the building occupants. The buildings are much more intelligent than average structures, providing occupants with a stable, healthy, and comfortable environment to work or live. Employees who work in NZEBs are likely to be more motivated and happy while doing their jobs, as the buildings are more efficient, user-friendly, and have the intelligence to control the lighting and temperature to the ideal settings for productivity. NZEBs also provide educational benefits for everyone who comes in contact with one, as people will learn about energy saving practices that they can use in their own lives, ultimately helping the goal to create a more energy-efficient world.
We are currently working on a 100,000 sq ft net-zero building for United Therapeutics’ new headquarters, one of the largest commercial/office net-zero projects on the east coast. The building meets net-zero energy consumption requirements through a number of cutting-edge designs and programs, including photovoltaic energy harvesting, rainwater collection, electrochromic glass, geothermal heat recovery, earth labyrinth cooling, and plant optimization software.
We were awarded the building integration and building automation components of the build and will use our products to control all of the building automation and building integration systems. Major control components for the building include operable windows, lighting control, power metering, photovoltaic production, BTU metering, chilled beam cooling, geothermal heat recovery, and atrium labyrinth cooling. Our work is set for completion in August 2018.
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