As of January 1, 2020, all California Building Code mandates architects to create ‘Zero Net Energy’ (ZNE) buildings ensuring that the new building must generate as much energy as it consumes. The law’s intent is to lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. The net result will be similar to removing 150,000 cars over a three-year period from California roadways. The key difference between merely incorporating green energy technologies into your building and building a ZNE building is that all elements of your building are deliberately planned to substantially minimize your energy consumption.
Benefits of ZNE
The Department of Energy defines a ZNE building as one that generates as much energy through renewable sources as it uses over a given period of time. It is an ambitious target for every building, but it is becoming much more attainable with advancements in solar photovoltaics and construction productivity all the time. There are two components that come together to make a building or project net zero: production of renewable energy, often in the form of solar panels, and energy-efficiency measures that reduce power demand. This balanced strategy is adaptive, allowing various new buildings and retrofitted buildings to achieve Zero Net in a number of environments and climates. By raising the amount of electricity used to keep a building going, you will cut back on the amount of solar power required to satisfy net demand. In practice this means that in the short and long term ZNE projects can often be less expensive than simply maximizing energy production with many panels.
Zero Net Energy = Zero Net Emissions
With the addition of green energy supply, total electricity costs of a ZNE building are marginal. Because there is a net zero equilibrium between energy generation and usage, the carbon footprint of the building for energy use will therefore reach zero. There are lots of reasons that account for a carbon footprint, but electricity is usually a leading cause of emissions, and using a ZNE building will make the company carbon neutral a long way away. Choosing to build for Zero Net Energy can sound more costly up front but Zero Net Energy may be achieved at little to no extra expense based on factors such as atmosphere and space available at solar. A Zero Net Energy building, if properly commissioned and planned, can make massive cost savings over the building ‘s lifetime. ZNE buildings are planned and constructed every day at the same cost as regular buildings, and many more are built for a relatively small upfront premium, which is easily repaid in a matter of months or years through utility cost savings.
Zero Net Energy: Hitting the Target
The implementation of a Zero Net Energy building is a complex endeavor that includes a thorough view of a building’s heating and cooling, ventilation, and other energy requirements. Through using techniques for energy analysis and the aspirations of potential inhabitants of the house, planners determine which management strategies are possible and integrate them with an appropriate strategy for solar power generation.
Once building planners have a reasonable idea of how much electricity is needed to fuel the building all year round, the next step is to decide whether to generate enough solar power to satisfy the demand. The amount of room on the top of the building or around the house is a primary determinant of how to construct a solar energy system. There is a balance to be found between installing more solar plants and investing more up front to reduce the growing demand for electricity. This combination is unique to a particular project’s energy demands, environment, and capacity available for solar generation. When there is comparatively less room for solar panels, a building may need to go deeper in terms of reducing the energy use, either by making greater investment in ventilation, adjusting the location or scale of the windows, or implementing another performance method, such as improved daylighting or architectural design.
Your Zero Net Energy Design
If you’re looking to increase the sustainability of your home or building or boost the bottom line, the construction of a Zero Net Energy building is a perfect choice. On average, this means your building produces as much energy as it uses through renewable sources. Solar panels are the most common choice for power generation and Net Zero Electricity is a remarkably attainable target when installed alongside the best building efficiency steps. Eliminating your energy footprint often means reducing your carbon footprint considerably, which is good for the planet as well as the overhead costs. Every Zero Net Energy scheme needs to be adapted to the various building requirements and conditions. SPEC offers experienced designers who are well reversed in cutting edge technologies and building efficiencies that can work with you on every step.