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What Is A Net Zero Building Design?

The zero-energy building (ZE), also known as the zero-net-energy building (ZNE), net-zero-energy building (NZEB), the net-zero-energy building is a zero-energy building, meaning that the total amount of energy the building consumes on an annual basis is equal to the quantity of renewable energy produced on-site or, in other meanings, from off-site renewable energy sources. 


Consequently, in some situations, these buildings add less gross greenhouse gas to the environment during operations than comparable non-ZNE buildings. 


At times, they consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times, energy consumption and output of greenhouse gases are decreased by the same amount elsewhere. Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) is a similar definition accepted and adopted by the European Union and other agreed-upon countries, with the aim of bringing all buildings in the region under nZEB standards by 2020. 


The State of California has proposed that all new low- and mid-rise residential buildings and all new commercial buildings be planned and built-in compliance with ZNE codes beginning in 2020 and 2030, respectively. The specifications will be promulgated, if enforced, by the California Building Code, which is revised over a three-year period and currently includes some of the highest energy requirements. By 2020, California is expected to raise efficiency requirements further, thereby avoiding the above-mentioned patterns of constructing standard housing and achieving ZNE by introducing significant quantities of renewables. A cost-benefit analysis is mandated by the California Energy Commission to show that new laws produce a net benefit for the state's residents. 


Some Examples Of Net Zero Building Designs In California Include:

  • West Village: At the time of its opening in 2014, West Village, located on the University of California campus in Davis, California, was North America's largest ZNE-planned neighborhood.[84] The development includes student housing for approximately 1,980 UC Davis students, as well as leaseable office space and community facilities, including a community center, pool, gym, restaurant, and convenience store. Energy and transportation-related university programs are currently leasing office spaces for growth. 

  • The IDeAs Z2 Design Facility: A net-zero electricity, zero-carbon retrofit project, occupied since 2007, is the IDeAs Z2 Design Facility. By implementing techniques such as daylighting, radiant heating/cooling with a ground-source heat pump, and high energy efficiency lighting and computing, it consumes less than one-fourth of the energy of a traditional U.S. office[87]. With renewable energy from its building-integrated photovoltaic array, the remaining energy demand is met. 

  • George LeyVa Middle School Administrative Offices: George LeyVa Middle School Administrative Offices is net-zero electricity, net-zero carbon emission building of just over 9,000 square feet, occupied since fall 2011. It is designed to use half the energy of a traditional California school building with daylighting, variable refrigerant flow HVAC, and displacement ventilation, and, via a building-integrated solar array, generates 108 percent of the energy required to offset its annual electricity use. The surplus helps to fuel the rest of the middle school campus. It is the first NZE K-12 building in California that is publicly funded. 

Are You Looking for an Architecture Firm Specializing in Zero-Net Energy Building Envelope Designs?

Ecobuild Architects provides exceptional design and construction administration services for residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects throughout California with an eye towards sustainable/ high-performance building solutions. We are experts in suggesting Cost-Effective/ Sustainable Solutions for any size project. If you are searching for an architect that specializes in Zero-Net Energy Building Envelope Design, Water Reuse, Healthy Indoor Air Quality, & Fire Resilient/ New Home Construction Practices, look no further than Ecobuild Architects in Oakland, California. Contact us today for your free consultation!

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