ZNE is a sexy phrase and thrilling concept, but setting the building sector’s sights on zero as the fix-all goal is raising notable concerns among critical stakeholders. This article outlines the tradeoffs of a ZNE framework for our future built environment and points to some alternative approaches to keep us on track to the ultimate goal of carbon reduction.
As the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) implements the California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategy Plan, a foundational goal is ensuring all new residential buildings be Zero Net Energy (ZNE) by 2020, and all new commercial buildings be ZNE by 2030. Additionally, 50% of existing commercial buildings will need to be retrofitted to ZNE by 2030.
Part III: Perlita House Green Building Certification
While we’re out here trying to beat the heat, construction on the Perlita Passive House continues on schedule. By now you’re familiar with the Perlita Passive House design process (and if not, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up) and have read that Verdical Group is leading the charge on the Project’s Living Building Challenge (LBC) Energy Petal Certification. But what does that really mean?
With just two weeks until Verdical Group’s Net Zero 2017 Conference, we’re highlighting the participation of Southern California Edison (SCE) in this year’s 4th annual event. The conference will gather 600+ attendees and 45+ exhibitors in Los Angeles on August 24, 2017 at the IBEW-NECA Net Zero Plus facility. Read our interview with SCE below that highlights their focus on climate goals and building a sustainable society as a primary provider of energy in SoCal and as one of the largest utilities in the country.
As you know from Part I of this blog series (or, if you haven’t read it yet, check it out here!), Xavier Gaucher is galvanizing the Los Angeles Green Building community through the use of his own single-family residence, The Perlita Passive House, as a case study to promote Passive House design and inspire others.
With just two months until Verdical Group’s Net Zero 2017 Conference, we’re highlighting the participation of The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in this year’s 4th annual event. The conference will gather 600+ attendees and 45+ exhibitors in Los Angeles on August 24, 2017 at the IBEW-NECA Net Zero Plus facility. Read our interview with SoCalGas below that highlights their work on energy efficiency and the future of natural gas as the primary provider of natural gas in the Southern California region.
Photo Credit: Building Design + Construction
The number of verified zero net energy (ZNE) buildings has increased dramatically in recent years. Back in 2012, the New Buildings Institute (NBI) published their first ever list of verified zero net energy buildings, with only 21 making the list. NBI has continued to publish this list annually and in 2016 the number of verified zero net energy buildings had nearly tripled. Even more promising is the increase in the number of emerging projects with a net zero goal in mind – what was once 39 total projects in 2012 is now approaching 300 in 2017. This is no small feat, as achieving net zero status requires a steep learning curve for design teams, higher investment costs up front, and picking apart many of the current energy systems we have used for decades. Despite their complexity, zero net energy buildings are the real deal with regards to the massive increase in energy cost savings and decrease in environmental impact. To be considered “zero net energy,” these high performance buildings must produce enough renewable energy to power themselves over the course of a year.
Photo credit: Phipps Conservatory
It seems the bar for green buildings is being set higher and higher with every new project coming onto the radar. However, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens may have set the bar at its highest level. Completed in 2012, the CSL is increasingly being referred to as the most sustainable building in the world due to the fact it’s obtained the world’s four highest green certifications. The building has met the standards for LEED platinum, Four Stars Sustainable Sites Initiative, WELL building platinum, and most recently achieved Living Building Challenge certification, the toughest of them all. Glancing into how the CSL was developed, it is easy to see how this building is earning the title of most sustainable in the world.
Photo credit: The Bullitt Center
Verdical Group’s sold out Net Zero 2016 Conference, the largest net zero building design conference in the country, was hands-down the best yet. Not just because of the world-class lineup of speakers and exhibitors that captivated a packed SoCalGas Energy Resource Center in Downey, California. Not simply because all of the attendees seemed to leave the event with ambitious smiles on their faces, ready to venture out into the world to make their own mark on a net zero future. It wasn’t only due to awe-inspiring presentations such as “Net Positive Building Design for Higher Education” by Miller Hull architect Brian Court. No, the greatest aspect of the conference was the “Perspectives on Net Zero,” panel that convened gas, electric, and water utilities, municipalities, and a visionary nonprofit (the International Living Future Institute) to discern what a net zero future would look like.
How did each representative present their view on a net zero future? Below, the panelists’ various perspectives surrounding net zero energy and water will be reviewed. Based on their discussion, it’s possible to envision a future where net zero building performance is possible.
Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
Aggressive Strategies for a Changing Climate
Downey, CA— Buildings alone contribute almost 40% of total US carbon emissions, and Zero Net Energy buildings will play an aggressive role as we strive to mitigate the effects of climate change. California is leading the way with mandates that all new residential construction be net zero energy by 2020, and commercial construction to follow suit by 2030. The market is pivoting, and companies and designers are finding opportunity in these shifts. Gaining traction, Zero Net Water, and Zero Net Waste movements are taking hold across industries as well, as inefficient systems and industry waste are being more accurately seen risks and hidden costs, and value is extracted from streams previously identified as waste only.