What is Net-Zero Energy & How Can You Make it a Reality?
40% of the global CO2 emissions source from building operations. Considering the estimation that the global building area would double by 2060, it’s imperative to keep environmental sustainability in check. In response to this, there’s been an ongoing effort to re-examine the practices of construction and retrofitting. Favorably, a viable solution exists for architects and builders to go about their business in 2021 and beyond: Net-Zero Energy development.
The concepts of Net-Zero Energy and Net-Zero Buildings refer to an energy system that can sustain itself without external inputs for the entire year. The term is specifically used when talking about electrical systems; however, it can vary for water or natural gas systems. What started in 1939 with MIT Solar House I has now transcended into a go-to development solution for institutional and organizational campuses.
The great thing is that such buildings (often referred to as Zero Energy Architecture) can be integrated into existing buildings or built from scratch. Now, this is beneficial from both environmental and economic standpoints.
Cost-efficiently, if you’re already in the process of building a structure, you won’t have to spend an enormous sum of money on retrofitting the exterior/interior for a Net-Zero energy building. Moving on to the impact on the environment, Net-Zero Energy buildings will sustain themselves on renewable energies (solar or wind energy).
The Net Zero by 2050 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that CO2 emissions can be reduced by 55% if consumers retrofit the buildings and purchase electric vehicles. Their evaluations further indicate 100% zero-carbon-ready buildings by 2025 — a win-win.
Here’s How You Can Make Net-Zero Energy a Reality
When it comes to the process, a few key pieces must be in place before initiating any retrofit project.
1. Plan and understand the technical and financial feasibility of the retrofit — it’s crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of how much energy will be produced and consumed by each facility to warrant the previously presumed possibilities without making any compromises.
2. Educate your stakeholders — you must stay on top of the trends and developments in the industry so that you can benefit from what others have learned, particularly when it comes to identifying cost-effective materials and equipment.
3. Work closely with the government and the community to ensure that local regulations and other relevant permits are met. The approval process and the facilitation of green building certification is a crucial requirement for setting up a structure that expedites Net-Zero energy.
4. Develop a budget and time frame. While it is wise to start small, your endeavor must begin in an organized manner in order to make it through all layers of bureaucracy. The budget alone can help determine how many solar panels or windmills will be installed in any given area.
“Global industries were not inherently designed to be low-carbon, and the road to decarbonization and Net-Zero will necessitate action beyond goal setting.”
—John Keppler, Forbes
When it comes to technology, the following are among the most popular solutions for any given area:
1. Sustainable HVAC Design — Implementing a naturally ventilated heating and cooling system is a great way to cut back on energy consumption. An example of the same would be our HVAC solution that is backed by an organized arrangement of earth air tunnel ventilation and cooling systems and helps improve the energy performance by 50%.
2. Net-Zero Electricity — The use of a large array of wind power generators and photovoltaic systems is a cost-effective way to ensure that your facility meets the objective for a year without the need of using any fossil fuels. The idea is to have a green electric system in place that serves all the conventional purposes while leveraging the green data center and complying with region-specific standards.
3. Water Management — The use of smart leak sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and optical flow meters all help in sensing leaks or loss of water within critical building components that are vital for the upkeep of your facility’s overall structure. Besides this, using water-collecting cisterns and rainwater harvesting systems, and other similar solutions can be a great way to eliminate any drainage costs while keeping the source
4. Plumbing Design — It isn’t just about preventing leaks and facilitating storage because a healthy and sustainable building entails a proper wastewater treatment system. This is possible through a meticulously designed plumbing system that ensures sanitation safe from pollutants.
In a Nutshell
Net-Zero energy development is always on board. Bringing sustainable practices to the forefront is a big step in the right direction, and we at McD BERL are excited to help you achieve your green targets.