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Designing a Zero Energy Building

Designing a Zero Energy Building

This guest post is by Liezl De Ocampo of CircularEnergy.com.

People are getting more conscious about their environment. As they strive to live a healthy life, they also find ways on how to conserve energy and support environmental campaigns. It is good to know that aside from residential buildings, business establishment can also be remodeled into an eco-friendly unit.

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Is it really possible to achieve a zero net energy consumption? One can say that it’s close to impossible but there are ways to closely achieve it. Though it is really challenging to set your net energy consumption to zero, it is possible to lower it to the minimum level.

The first option is to contact green home builders who will design a zero-energy building whether it is for residential or business use. There are lots of providers who can also remodel your homes to make it environment-friendly. They can schedule a free assessment at your site to perform analysis of the property and discuss the plans such as layout, sunlight and shading, electrical services and others.

A zero energy building or a zero net energy (ZNE) building refers to a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions yearly. It can be an independent establishment away from the energy grid supply or energy can be harvested on-site. There are also buildings approaching zero net energy and they are called a “near-zero energy building” or “ultra-low energy house”.

How can an existing residential building turn into a zero-energy unit? The design phase is crucial when building or transforming into a zero energy building. But with client collaboration and high-end technology, a modern green architecture is really possible. Here are some important concepts to understand how a zero energy building is designed:

Zero Energy Lab in Texas (image via Wikipedia)

Zero Energy Lab in Texas (image via Wikipedia)

Design and construction

With the progress made in new construction technology and techniques, modern zero energy buildings become easier to construct and maintain. During the design process, it is important to strategize toward the reduction of building’s energy consumption. Shading, solar orientation, material selection and every decision can lead to the success of ZNE building. It can also lead to minimizing heating use through passive solar design. To reduce energy demands, choose a highly efficient water heater. It is also worth investing on solar water heating units and tankless systems.

Common energy resources utilized by popular zero energy building designers are sunlight and solar heat, blowing breezes, and earth temperature. ZNEB are built with significant energy-saving features which enables the heating and cooling load to be adjusted or lowered. These are made possible through high-efficiency equipment, quality insulation, high-efficiency windows, natural ventilation and other popular techniques. ZNEB features vary depending on the climate zones and construction site. Other factors involved are daylighting, nighttime illumination, and miscellaneous electric loads.

Energy Harvest

Energy is harvested for electrical, heating and cooling needs of zero energy buildings. Common technologies uses are microgeneration, using solar cells or wind turbines, biofuels, or solar thermal collectors. It is also important to have an electricity grid to cope with fluctuating demand of energy.

Harvesting of energy in group is known to be more cost-effective and resource-efficient. The topography of the location also provides benefits to energy harvesting in commercial and industrial applications.

Advantages

Here are some benefits to enjoy when switching to a zero energy building:

  • Reduced total cost of ownership with improved energy efficiency
  • Minimal requirement for energy austerity
  • Comfortable unit due to more uniform interior temperature
  • Stability of energy prices
  • Reliable photovoltaic system
  • Higher resale value of ZEB

While there are lots of advantages and benefits, it is also important to take note that zero energy building is a real investment that it may have high initial cost. However, these expenses is worth all the benefits.

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Posted in Architecture, Construction, Energy, Energy ConservationComments (0)