Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Precedent: Historic Structure at Zero

The Federal Department of Energy's (DOE) Net Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative aims to achieve marketable net zero energy buildings by 2025. A net zero energy building produces as much energy as it consumes. Attaining this goal requires that buildings be energy efficient and include a means to produce energy from renewable resources.

The first historic renovation net-zero facility is located in Grand Junction, Colorado. It takes the approach of conserving material with facility reuse and upgrading systems to shrink the energy consumed by construction and use to a zero impact. According to the architect of this project, Westlake Reed Leskosky, the design team is targeting LEED Platinum certification. Upon completion, the Wayne Aspinall building is expected to be the GSA's first Site Net Zero Energy building on the National Register of Historic Places. Building physics analysis has been used to study space thermal comfort, natural ventilation and daylighting potential, envelope thermal performance, renewable energy potential, and whole building energy performance. A 115 kW roof and canopy mounted photovoltaic array, DC micro-grids, GeoExchange, and variable refrigerant flow systems are proposed.

The project is being designed and implemented using the latest in 3D BIM technology, including Revit, Navisworks and Innovaya.

Energy retrofits for this existing historic structure is expected to result in over a 50% reduction in energy use.

GSA itself has put up a decent online tool that steps through the PROCESS of sustainability pretty well. Very straightforward demonstration of what the process is really about with respect to buildings. This doesn't address location or property site attributes, of course, which is the other half of creating sustainable environments with water retention strategies on grade, landscaping and building orientation.