Teaming with Technology

It’s mid-January and I’m sitting in the most sustainable building in the world – the Bullitt Center in Seattle. It’s a grey cool day outside (it is Seattle after all), but inside the atmosphere is bright, with no electric lights on. The space has high ceilings and exposed masonry but is totally comfortable. There are hundreds of people in this six-story building, but its energy use per square foot is 85% lower than most office buildings. And in 2014 the Bullitt Center produced twice the energy it used, claiming a spot alongside hundreds of other Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings.

California leads the nation with almost 60 buildings either verified as ZNE or advancing towardBullitt Center that target (we call these ‘ZNE emerging’ buildings). So it’s no wonder that California supported the development of three new ‘Zero Net Energy Technology Application Guides’ to share the data and stories of how buildings are getting to zero. A sign here at the Bullitt Center uses the term “State of the Now” to characterize the design strategies and technologies used to get this building to net zero. And there is no better time than ‘now’ to make ZNE the new norm by increasing information and experience with these leading practices and technologies.

The three guides – 1) Luminaire Lighting Level Controls (LLLC), 2) Indirect Evaporative Cooling (IEC) and 3) Radiant Heating and Cooling + Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS) – were developed by NBI with input from engineering and design firms that are actively using these system to address client and energy efficiency objectives. The guides describe technology features and benefits, provide project specific examples of both modeled and actual energy performance, spotlight applied stories, and give an overview of costs, trends and related resources.

On January 20 NBI presented an overview webinar on the guides. With just 10 minutes of time per guide, you’ll gain the ‘explanation, application and implication’ of these ‘State of the Now’ technologies found in today’s ZNE buildings.

All these technologies bring increased control and comfort benefits, a critical driver to owners (often more so than significant energy savings). They’re also gateway technologies to help meet emerging regulatory targets such as California’s requirement that all new commercial buildings be ZNE in just 15 years. As Paul Doughty, facilities manager at Pinnacol Assurance, a workers’ compensation firm in Denver, said “We stay ahead of what’s required.” The Zero Net Energy Technology Application Guides share what’s in use today to ‘get ahead’. Download the guides (or watch the recorded video any time), pass them on and help increase ZNE buildings now.

Cathy Higgins, Research Director