A Commercial Zero Energy (NZE) building produces as much or more renewable energy as it consumes over the course of a year. These buildings reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources and achieve Net Zero status, initially through high levels of energy efficiency and conservation measures. This effort is then advanced by the selection of building mechanicals and appliances that use electricity and finally through the addition of onsite renewable power generation.
The Path to Zero Energy (ZE) is surprisingly accessible. There are numerous examples of commercial buildings achieving ZE, or near Zero Energy (NZE) with little or no added project cost. Costs are managed based on decisions made by the project team during the integrated design process.
Several studies have found the incremental cost of producing Commercial Zero Energy buildings to be in the range of 0-15% more than conventional construction costs. This incremental cost is for design and construction only and does not consider the life-cycle cost savings of lower energy costs to operate and maintain the building over time.
Achieving Commercial Zero Energy objectives requires a combination of best practice energy efficiency measures and renewable energy production. First; REDUCING building energy consumption in new building construction or renovation can be accomplished through various means. This starts with integrated design, energy efficiency retrofits, reduced plug loads and energy conservation programs. Reduced energy consumption makes it simpler and less expensive to meet the building’s energy needs with renewable sources of energy.
Designing for high energy performance is the first step and requires establishing a goal at the beginning of the project and working under an “Integrated Design Process.” Design teams must:
There are multiple compelling benefits associated with the marketing of low energy, high performance buildings for commercial property developers and building owners:
Commercial Zero Energy buildings have a tremendous potential to transform the way buildings use energy and an increasing number of building owners want to meet this target. Private commercial property owners are interested in developing ZE to facilities to meet their corporate goals. Some have already constructed buildings designed to be zero energy. In response to regulatory mandates, federal government agencies and many state and local governments are beginning to move toward Zero Energy targets. However, definitions differ from region to region and from organization to organization, leading to confusion and uncertainty around what constitutes a Zero Energy buildings. ReWire is here to help shed some light and lead the way to the Zero Energy and Low Carbon future.