Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Net Zero Energy Buildings

By Micah Jacobson

A Net Zero energy building is building with zero net energy used and zero carbon emissions used annually. There are renewable energy systems installed in building with an agreement with the power company. The meter will reflect the flow of energy; positive when power is being consumed by the building and negative if the building is providing more power than needed and therefore giving electricity to the power company; this will add credits to the customer’s bill. The customer is only charged the net power used during a certain interval of time.

Having net zero energy is one of the criteria for the living building challenge. The living building challenge is a philosophy, and advocacy platform and a certification program. It is a standard of performance and a path to restore the future. To qualify you need to have a responsible site plan, limited growth (only build on previous sites), habitat exchange (1 acre per acre exchange for 100 year non-development.), Net Zero energy, no red list materials, construction carbon footprint (builder must purchase carbon offsets for the type and size of the building), responsible industry (wood needs to be FSC certified, salvaged or harvested on site), appropriate materials (materials must be from an appropriate distance), leadership in construction waste (a certain percent of construction waste needs to be diverted from landfills), Net Zero water waste, sustainable water discharge (all storm water handled on site), window in every populated area of building, healthy air-Source control (manages chemicals, paints, adhesives and others), healthy air-Vitalization (building must meet California title 24 requirements), beauty and Inspiration, beauty and spirit (meets aesthetic needs of the visitors), inspiration and education (must be open to the public at least one day a week and educational materials must be available).

The net Zero energy and living building challenge are good programs that help to achieve a truly sustainable built environment.

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