Net Positive: Net Zero Energy

Net Zero Energy continues to be an important design consideration and the ultimate goal in high performance building sector energy efficiency. However, the Living Future Institute, believes the next goal to be NET Positive.
Net Positive Energy + Water Conference
At the beginning of February I attended the International Living Future Institute’s first Net Positive Energy + Water Conference that is rooted in the restorative principles of the Living Building Challenge™. There were several presentations worth mentioning starting with a presentation by Denis Hayes who is  Bullitt Foundation CEO and championed their Living Building Challenge project. He spoke about the Bullitt Center and how important it is to design efficient buildings for our cities, given the migration of the world’s population to urban centers.  Performance is what matters, he noted. Build them to be efficient and to last. Next was Jason McLennan, Living Building Challenge founder who made the point that “Life doesn’t do Zero” and spoke to the vision of Regenerative Design.
Net Zero Energy was mentioned as passe and moving to Net Positive would be the new paridime
He then asked “Can you imagine going into Google and buying a thermaostat?”  “I want to go to the Apple Store to buy a toilet” suggesting that technoogy would advance solutions such as water efficiency.

Net Positive Water
A Panel discussion on “Water justice in an era of scarcity: the new reality” presented interesting challenges to future designs related to water. Here are some interesting correlations of water to energy. Water and energy are closely interlinked as well as being interdependent. Energy generation and transmission consume water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. It was interesting that this conference was in California where a drought has been going on for the last few years and utilizes hydro power. Similarly, about 8 percent of global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers. Envelope First Energy Efficiency helps contribute to many of the goals of Net Positive Energy and Water. By first designing the envelope as a high performance, thermally efficient enclosure system, that baseline reduces the amount of renewables needed to meet the Net Positive Energy Efficiency goal.

Costs & Financing:
The most interesting take away session spoke to alternative energy efficiency financing concepts.
MEETS (Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure Models) is a program where utilities could be funders for energy efficiency improvements. Such programs include long term (10+ year payback) energy efficiency strategies. This program enables third-party investors to provide the financing for an efficiency retrofit such as a super insulated envelope.  The investor pays a monthly fee to the building owner for the opportunity to install the efficiency measure in the building (just as a wind farm investor pays a rental fee to ranchers for use of their land).


Designing a high performance building starts with envelope first energy efficiency and Kingspan’s panels that are proven high performance envelope solutions.  Providing new mechanisms in funding envelope energy efficiency and renewables in a Net Zero Energy goal will help meet the goal of reducing related Green House Gases  (GHG).

John AnDary of the Integral Group spoke about designing many NZE buildings starting by establishing an energy target such as and EUI (energy use intensity). He spoke to the general principles of “energy produced to energy used”. John also addressed the envelope as the most cost effect start to achieving  NZE / Net Positive targets. The support of upfront analysis through Kingspan’s  “Energiservices” will provide design teams important performance scenarios to assist in making more informed decisions. 
Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

Part of my current work with Kingpsan is bringing greater attention to envelope first energy efficiency as the most economical solution in reduction of building energy loads and related Green House Gases.  This includes working on driving energy efficiency at Federal and State through legislation, energy codes and standards as well as various green building NGOs such as LEED and Green Globes. Part of the energy efficiency challenge is easy access to reliable energy information resources and this year Kingpan is pleased to announce participation as a  sponsor for the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The Factbook is researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. The 2014 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook provides up-to-date, accurate market intelligence about the broad range of industries. Energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas are contributing to the country's move towards cleaner energy production and more efficient energy usage.
Findings from the 2014 Factbook include:

•Natural gas and renewable energy provided over 40 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2013, down slightly from 2012, but up 10 percent since 2007.
•U.S. energy use has fallen 5 percent from 2007 to 2013, while GDP is estimated to have grown by 6 percent. This demonstrates the increased energy productivity of the U.S. economy.
•Clean energy generation sources and energy efficiency improvements have driven U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down nearly 10 percent since 2005, dramatically reversing decades of increases.
•The U.S. is now more than halfway to reaching President Obama’s goal of a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020.

It is a FREE download.


This entry was tagged: Living Building Challenge, Net Positive, Net Zero, Net Zero Energy, Sustainable Energy

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