According to the State of Minnesota’s recently enacted building energy standard (B3 SB2030) that follows the federal government's Executive Order stating that all new buildings should be designed to achieve zero net energy by the year 2030. But what is “Net Zero Energy”? A Net Zero Energy building produces enough renewable energy to meet or go beyond its annual energy consumption requirements.
With the growing necessity for energy-efficient buildings, newer technologies have allowed the incorporation of green strategies into a building’s design, construction, and operation. Advances in technologies, renewable energy systems, and research are making Net Zero Energy buildings a more feasible option.
Net Zero Energy Definitions
Over the course of a year, an energy-efficient building uses technology to produce as much energy as it consumes from the “grid.” Having a net zero building can be measured in a variety of ways:
● Net Zero Site Energy. This means a site creates at least as much renewable energy as it uses in a year.
● Net Zero Source Energy. Similar to site energy. However, it means the site uses or purchases as much renewable energy provided by the source. This includes the cost to extract, process, generate, and deliver the energy to the site.
● Net Zero Energy Costs. This is when the amount of money the utility company pays the site owner for the renewable energy the building exports the grid should equal the amount the owner pays the utility for the energy used over the year.
● Net Zero Energy Emissions. This type of building uses either no emissions-resulting energy (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, etc.) nor offsets the emissions by exporting emissions-free energy.
Net Zero Building principles can be applied to many types of projects including industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. They can even be applied to new building construction or existing buildings.
The Net Zero Energy metric or guidelines for the building may allow the energy to be created either offsite or onsite. This is especially popular if the building space is limited and the building owner cannot install wind turbines, solar grids, etc. at the site location. No matter the metric used to calculate a Net Zero Energy building, lowering the amount of energy usage through sustainable designs should always be considered a high priority.
To go along with Minnesota’s accelerating energy standard, Gausman & Moore will continue to design energy-efficient components for each of our new building projects. For more information about our green building promise, visit our Sustainability page.