California is currently on target for requiring Zero Net Energy (ZNE) performance from all new residential construction by 2020, and new commercial construction by 2030. While just how the State of California will define ZNE is still being finalized (see our blog “Defining ZNE - Not As Easy as You Think!”), the technologies and design features to make your next project energy self-sufficient are available today.
We have been developing our portfolio of ZNE projects over the last two years with some exciting results. Whether new construction or renovation, residential or commercial, our design consultation and optimization process typically involves five steps:
1) Gather information about anticipated energy use, such as operations for commercial projects, or lifestyle for residential projects.
2) Optimize building performance through computer modeling, to reduce energy use and increase comfort using passive strategies.
3) Identify and allocate roof or other area for renewable energy.
4) Investigate options for electric lighting, heating/cooling, ventilation and hot water systems that will further reduce electric loads.
5) Finalize energy calculations and photovoltaic (PV) design.
This work is done in conjunction with other programs including Title 24 documentation, LEED certification and Green Point Rated.
California has some of the best solar energy availability in the United States, which is an integral part of any ZNE design. Research shows that the key is to start early, set the goal for ZNE, and build from there.
Looking for inspiration and education on the topic? New Buildings Institute offers webinars, case studies and information on the latest codes and policies. Visit their website, then contact us when you are ready to make your Zero Net Energy Plan.