Net-zero energy buildings are gaining popularity across North America, a sign of both property owners’ commitment and the growing availability of resources to deliver on owners’ zero energy targets. In its 2020 Getting to Zero Buildings List, the Portland, Oregon based New Building Institute stated that the nearly 700 verified and emerging North American zero-energy buildings represent a 42 percent increase over 2018. Total square footage of zero-energy buildings has passed 62 million, a leap of 39 percent from 2018, NBI estimates in the report, which was released in late September.
NBI has been leading the market development of zero energy (ZE) buildings since 2008 when it supported the development of the first ZNE Action Plan to help California meet its ambitious zero energy goals. Since then, it has been tracking the counts and location of zero energy verified and emerging projects across the United States and Canada.
Whether the building is new or existing, it is difficult to make it a zero-energy building unless enough renewable power can be generated, observed Wayne Turett, founder & principal at The Turett Collaborative, a New York City-based architecture and design firm. For instance, the compact footprint of a 20-story New York City office tower might lack enough roof area for solar panels. “Take the same 20-story building and lay the square footage on a one-story building, and you’d have the needed area for the panels,” Turett added.
An example of a transformation into a zero-energy certified building can be found at 435 Indio Way in Sunnyvale, California. The retrofit of a 1970s square, one-story office building employed passive or bioclimatic design strategies incorporating highly insulated ceiling and walls, 43 custom skylights designed by Integral Group, integrated rooftop photovoltaics, solar gain from all building apertures, natural ventilation for most cooling requirements and the addition of fans for increased comfort control.
Given the developing appetite for zero energy buildings there are more growth opportunities ahead for the lighting industry to deliver such transformation projects.