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Archives: January 2011

Oregon Sustainability Center:

Something amazing is happening in Portland Oregon! SERA Architects, and Skanska Construction are designing a project that will be the first of its kind in the World. The Center will achieve triple net-zero performance in energy, water and wastewater management. It is designed to pursue the world’s most stringent green building criteria, the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge™. This sort of innovation will define Portland as a center for sustainable building in the United States. The construction economy is about to start pumping again and the companies that are poised to take advantage of the latest building technology will prosper.
I am so excited to see such a well organized municipality! Forward thinking design will make their city thrive in the future. Please take a look at the web site: http://www.oregonsustainabilitycenter.org/
This building will be the most energy efficient high-rise ever built.

Posted 7 years ago by admin in Net Zero Energy Design 38

Net Zero Energy Utility


I am working on a curtain wall design for SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) new Corporate Yard. This is an ambitious Green project by a very responsible public agency. The design intent is to create a Net Zero Energy facility that will serve as a maintenance center and office building for the Sacramento Area.
My team at BISEM Inc will use our BISEM Wall system to reduce the U-Value of the Curtain Wall system. Focus Wall can achieve a U-Value as low as 0.18BTU/(h °F ft²), which is 5 times better than most Curtain Wall systems. It also creates a perfectly transparent glass wall that will be as energy efficient as a brick and mortar wall.
The second sustainable attribute for our building envelope design, is a Building Integrated Photovoltaic Curtain Wall. This wall is actually Run By The Sun, and creates DC electric current in the vertical wall of the office building.
All design, engineering, and fabrication of these systems are done in an Energy-plus manufacturing facility in Sacramento CA.

Posted 7 years ago by admin in BiPV Curtain Wall, Net Zero Energy Design 8,023

Zero Energy Office Building:

National Renewable Energy LaboratoryThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO is the largest Net Zero Energy Building in the world. It is very important for Net Zero Development, that a building of this sort was completed in the US. The fact that it is operational is important. It makes people realize that something monumental is possible. However, what is most important, is that a group of designers in the US used cutting edge technology to build this giant prototype. Now, others can emulate this process across the Country.
The operation of this building will work as a full scale laboratory that can refine the construction, learn what was done right, what was done wrong, and come up with improvements to the systems and the process of building and managing Net Zero Energy Buildings.
The team that built the project is composed of RNL, Stantec, and Haselden Construction. They should be recognized as pioneers. This is a collaboration that people in the construction industry can learn from.

Posted 7 years ago by admin in Net Zero Energy Design 56

Net Zero Energy in Yosemite Valley

I had the pleasure of spending the last week of 2010 in Yosemite Valley at the Ahwahnee Hotel. What a magnificent place to take in California’s natural splendor and wind down from a year of hard work. I sat in this historic building with an undeniable old world feeling, and enjoyed what this serene place has to offer. Natural Power all around me, from majestic Half Dome carved out of the hillside by powerful glaciers, waterfalls cracking with the force of millions of gallons of water and ice, golden sunshine warming the twenty-six degree air.
I got to thinking of the power in this valley and my own passion for zero energy buildings. As I looked around the Ahwahnee, I noticed something “new” in this “old” hotel. All of the lights were compact florescent, and the Christmas Trees and all of the decorations used LED lights. So I took the time to ask the manager about the lighting. He said that they have made a conscious effort for the Ahwahnee to be more energy efficient and achieve a high level of sustainability. The change in the Christmas lighting dramatically reduced the energy consumption of the hotel. The actual cost difference was a 90% reduction, from $22,500 in additional electrical costs over the Holiday Season to only $2,800 in additional costs.
That is an amazing reduction in electrical usage with the application of a new technology. Even in a secluded mountain get away there are ways to move a building toward net zero energy.

I have one other observation from this trip.
I noticed that the grand banquet room of the Ahwahnee has gigantic lamps, made from old milling saw blades that host 17 incandescent mock-candle lights. The powers that be, did not change these to compact florescent. I noticed, and enjoyed, the warm glow that you lose with the florescent lights. I mused that we may be losing the luxury of that warm glow in order to facilitate efficiency.
But, if all buildings were designed for zero energy, and each building had sufficient photovoltaic power, we might be able to sustain the aesthetic value of those less efficient lights in critical areas.
The answer to Net Zero Energy Buildings, is always a creative process that balances many architectural parameters. I hope that the designers in our future can find that balance, that allows for amazing aesthetics, and aggressive sustainability.

Posted 7 years ago by admin in Net Zero Energy Design 30