Part 2: Commercial Properties in California should be Zero Net Energy by 2030

  
15
Sep
2019

Commercial Properties in California should be Zero Net Energy by 2030

Buildings consume a lot of energy to operate, such as powering their devices, keeping the temperature cool, heating water and turning their lights on. The Zero Net Energy (ZNE), as mandated by the California government to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions, has been required to ensure that all new commercial buildings will be ZNE by 2030. Additionally, existing buildings must be reconstructed as well, promoting clean energy in different communities and business centers across the state. This is aligned with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which demands 100% reduction of using fossil fuel energy for new Federal buildings by 2030. These laws may require building owners, contractors, designers, engineers, architects and manufacturers to plan their future actions to meet the government standards and the burgeoning market for ZNE.

ZNE Definitions

The Department of General Services (DGS) issued these definitions of zero net energy:

  • ZNE building: An energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual consumed energy is less than or        equal to the on-site renewable generated energy.
  • ZNE campus: An energy-efficient campus where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual consumed energy is less than or        equal to the on-site renewable generated energy.
  • ZNE portfolio: An energy-efficient portfolio in which, on a source energy basis, the actual annual consumed energy is less than        or equal to the on-site renewable generated energy.
  • ZNE community: An energy-efficient community where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual consumed energy is less           than or equal to the on-site renewable generated energy.

How does a ZNE Building Works?

A ZNE building is designed to minimize their energy load by improving their overall structure, and incorporating numerous design strategies and features. This will include high-performance envelopes, air barrier systems, sun control and shading devices, natural ventilation and daylighting, water conservation, effective sealing of windows and doors, and more. These can save as much as 50% to 70% of their total consumption compared to typical buildings.

Once the improvements have been completed, the buildings will then incorporate renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaics (PV), solar water heating and wind turbines, on- or off-site, in case space is limited. Whatever is executed should produce enough energy to support the day-by-day demands of the structure. When renewable energy sources are not available, the building may draw power from the electrical grid. Once the weather gets better and the building has resumed the production, the excess has to be sent back to the grid. This well-planned structure will ensure that the building can effectively meet the demand that they need annually.

Of course, there are numerous considerations that building owners need to look at after the aforementioned methods were achieved. When the building is fully operational, the occupants need to be well-informed on how to increase its energy efficiency. A set of guidelines can be of great help, such as switching off devices and lights when not in use and preventing the employees from plugging personal devices.

Competitive and Energy-Secure Future

The US power grid problems have been rising, thus, creating a viable and reliable method to protect the future should be highly prioritized. California is known for its drive to achieving clean energy and they are very stringent with the implementation, as observed with their legislative orders. In fact, developers have started to create energy-efficient buildings. As of 2018, hundreds of commercial buildings are already ZNE and California is already leading in terms of project numbers and market growth, with 67 ZNE verified buildings and districts and 214 project locations.

Tags:  Ca; California; Net Zero; Energy; Electricity;
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