NetZeroMax takes sustainable design and green building full circle by promoting and advocating energy independent design solutiuons. This web site features passive design information and high tech options that, when used in combination, result in a cost effective, Net Zero building independent of power from the local utility. We don’t have to wait to become energy self-sustaining. This site includes many great ideas to MAXimize your Net Zero energy independence TODAY, and save you money in the process.
By Brent Sauser
There is no way of escaping the fact that there are consequences to our personal decisions and actions. That is also true for the decisions and actions made or ignored by our local, state, and federal government. Well intended decisions often end up as obvious contradictions. For example, the federal government encourages us to drive fuel efficient automobiles and provides monetary incentives to “sweeten” the decision to move in that direction. However, now that so many have taken advantage of those incentives, our government is now complaining that they are not receiving enough revenue from gas taxes to cover expenses. To compensate, the government is now floating the idea of taxing drivers by the mile instead of at the pump . . . thus totally eliminating the incentive to go hybrid.
As more people embrace the advantages of building Net Zero, our electrical utility is faced with a growing challenge of having to deal with integrating renewable energy into the power grid, that was not designed to handle a substantial influx of variable renewable energy. The following article from Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times (Nation) captures the depth of the problem.
December 2, 2013
WASHINGTON — “In a sprawling complex of laboratories and futuristic gadgets in Golden, Colo., a supercomputer named Peregrine does a quadrillion calculations per second to help scientists figure out how to keep the lights on.
Peregrine was turned on this year by the U.S. Energy Department. It has the world’s largest “petascale” computing capability. It is the size of a Mack truck.
Its job is to figure out how to cope with a risk from something the public generally thinks of as benign — renewable energy.
Energy officials worry a lot these days about the stability of the massive patchwork of wires, substations and algorithms that keeps electricity flowing. They rattle off several scenarios that could lead to a collapse of the power grid — a well-executed cyberattack, a freak storm, sabotage.
But as states, led by California, race to bring more wind, solar and geothermal power online, those and other forms ofalternative energy have become a new source of anxiety. The problem is that renewable energy adds unprecedented levels of stress to a grid designed for the previous century.
Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives. In many cases, renewable resources exist where transmission lines don’t.
“The grid was not built for renewables,” said Trieu Mai, senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory .
The frailty imperils lofty goals for greenhouse gas reductions. Concerned state and federal officials are spending billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer money in an effort to hasten the technological breakthroughs needed for the grid to keep up with the demands of clean energy.
Making a green energy future work will be “one of the greatest technological challenges industrialized societies have undertaken,” a group of scholars at Caltech said in a recent report. The report notes that by 2030, about $1 trillion is expected to be spent nationwide in bringing the grid up to date.
The role of the grid is to keep the supply of power steady and predictable. Engineers carefully calibrate how much juice to feed into the system as everything from porch lights to factory machines are switched on and off. The balancing requires painstaking precision. A momentary overload can crash the system.
California has taken some of the earliest steps to address the problems. The California Public Utilities Commission last month ordered large power companies to invest heavily in efforts to develop storage technologies that could bottle up wind and solar power, allowing the energy to be distributed more evenly over time.
Whether those technologies will ever be economically viable on a large scale is hotly debated. The commission mandate nonetheless requires companies to produce enough storage by 2024 to power about 1 million homes.
“Energy storage has the potential to be a game changer for our electric grid ,” Commissioner Mark Ferron said.
Some utility officials warn, however, that the only guarantee is that ratepayers will be spending a lot. The commission’s goals, while laudable, “could cost up to $3 billion with uncertain net benefits for customers,” Southern California Edison declared in a filing.
But regulators are desperate to move past the status quo. Already, power grid operators in some states have had to dump energy produced by wind turbines on blustery days because regional power systems had no room for it. Officials at the California Independent System Operator, which manages the grid in California, say renewable energy producers are making the juggling act increasingly complex.
“We are getting to the point where we will have to pay people not to produce power,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, a system operator board member.
A bigger fear is that the grid is becoming more vulnerable to collapse, leaving the public exposed to the kind of blackouts that hit San Diego, parts of Arizona and a chunk of Baja California on a blistering hot September day in 2011.
Rush-hour traffic jammed as streetlights went dark. Flights were grounded. Pumping stations came to a halt, causing sewage to flow onto beaches. People were trapped in office elevators and on rides at Sea World.
An employee’s misstep at a substation near Yuma, Ariz., caused that blackout, but energy experts see it as a harbinger of the sorts of problems that could become frequent if the nation fails to refashion its outmoded power grid.
Foster has been working with other regulators and power company executives to redesign the system. The work involves ideas for mapping and building vast networks of electrical lines, industrial-scale solar- and wind-power plants and backup natural gas plants that can keep the lights on when shifts in weather cause renewable sources to falter. That’s the tangible stuff they can easily explain.” By Evan Halper – Los Angeles Times (Nation)
CLICK HERE to read the article from Evan Halper.
By Brent Sauser
As much as I am a fan of photovoltaic systems and their increasing efficiency and cost effectiveness, I am also a supporter of wind generators. Urban Green Energy (UGE) is one of the leaders in wind generator technology. UGE was at the 2012 GreenBuild convention in San Francisco, and I was pleased to see them at GreenBuild 2013 in Philadelphia. I spoke with Tyler regarding UGE’s achievements over the past year and he related several success stories that point to growth and expansion in the wind generator industry. Tyler graciously consented to make a video with NetZeroMax to explain and demonstrate the advantages and benefits of using wind generators. One big advantage is that wind generators do not work ONLY in sunlight, but 24/7 . . . if an 8mph minimum wind is present.
Please CLICK HERE for more information regarding the benefits of wind generators at UGE.
By Brent Sauser
I was pleased to come across the Mitsubishi Electric exhibit at GreenBuild 2013 in Philadelphia. Prominently displayed was the popular Mitsubishi Ductless HVAC system. NetZeroMax was fortunate to have Chuck Applebee consent to making a video regarding Mitsubishi Ductless HVAC systems. As an architect, I have had the opportunity to specify ductless systems and consider myself a convert to the technology. Ductless HVAC systems have been around for decades, in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere outside the United States. Meanwhile, Americans are way behind the benefit curve when it comes to energy efficient and cost effective ductless HVAC systems. Conventional ducted systems can achieve up to an 18 SEER (energy efficiency) rating, while ductless HVAC systems achieve a SEER 26, with SEER 30 in the near future. Who wouldn’t want to save 30% a month on their energy bills?
Ductless HAVC systems are a practical, flexible, energy efficient, and cost effective way to bring mold-free and mildew-free cooling and heating into your home or office building . . . . by zone. You don’t have to heat and cool areas of the building that are unoccupied. You can direct the cooling and heating to where you want it, when you want it. Flexibility, energy efficiency, cost savings! Not a bad combination.
You do not have to settle for old technology simply because your contractor is unfamiliar with ductless systems. Insist on ductless HVAC systems, even if it means finding another contractor to install it. Ultimately, you will enjoy an energy savings of up to 30% by going ductless . . . and that adds up in your favor. Isn’t that so much better than the alternative?
Part of becoming sustainable is choosing technology that will reduce the amount of energy required for operation and yet provide the same or (in the case of ductless systems) substantially improved performance over the course of its useful life. Ducted systems WON’T get us there! Ductless systems better contribute to an overall Net Zero building solution.
Please CLICK HERE to learn more about Mitsubishi Ductless HVAC systems.
By Brent Sauser
I confess . . . I am a big fan of daylighting, or light harvesting! Anything we can do to bring the daylight IN and keep artificial lighting OFF during the day time is a big energy saver. Think about it . . . why should we settle for poor building design that requires energy dependent artificial lighting during the day time, when we can bring the daylight into our interior spaces and benefit from God-given, full spectrum light . . . . FOR FREE. The RESOURCES page on NetZeroMax.com identifies several daylighting companies that feature all types of products that bring free daylight into interior space.
We met with Eric Miller, national sales manager of Solatube, at the GreenBuild 2013 convention. Eric was gracious enough to make a video for NetZeroMax.com that features two innovative residential daylighting systems (see below for video). I was so impressed with the features of the 14” diameter Solatube system that we are planning to have two installed in our home.
I invite you to watch the video and CLICK HERE to learn more about Solatube and their many great residential, commercial, and industrial daylighting systems.
By Brent Sauser
Our flight to GreenBuild 2013 started in Orlando with a short lay-over in Cleveland, Ohio. We transferred to a very small commuter jet with little head room and one seat on the left and two on the right. Once crammed in (on the right side) we taxied out to a remote spot on the runway where we waited about forty minutes for the Philadelphia airport to approve departure, due to delays at their end. While patiently waiting, I overheard a person in the window seat behind me say something about the GreenBuild convention. That got my attention and proceeded to speak with her. Turns out, she is a project consultant for Big Ass Fans and was attending GreenBuild 2013 as an Exhibiter. I mentioned to her that I was familiar with her product and very impressed with the technology of marketing wide diameter fans. I also shared with her how Big Ass Fans got me in trouble with Human Resources simply by invoking the name to the wrong person. We told her that we looked forward to seeing her and the Big Ass Fan exhibit at the convention.
Sure enough, in a prime location near the middle of the exhibit hall, we came upon the Big Ass Fan exhibit . . . . and Alicia was there talking to a conference attendee. We walked over and reintroduced ourselves, but Alicia remembered us from the flight. She consented to making a video explaining Big Ass Fans for NetZeroMax.com. I’m sure you will agree that Alicia knows her product well and is quite eloquent in explaining all of Big Ass Fans many features.
We hope you will take the time to click on the link below to learn more about Big Ass Fans and how they can reduce your cooling and heating demand, as well as contribute to an aesthetically pleasing Net Zero solution. Thank you Alicia for being such a good sport. You were fantastic!
For further information regarding Big Ass Fans CLICK HERE.
By Brent Sauser
The USGBC GreenBuild 2013 convention is something one needs to prepare for, whether attendee or exhibitor . . . just ask my feet! Regardless of the venue or location, GreenBuild is more than a convention. It resembles more of a pilgrimage for green building and sustainable design enthusiasts. Some 25,000 like-minded people converged on the Philadelphia Convention Center to feast upon the new and innovative products from the over 900 exhibitors, while braving very cold weather outdoors.
The cold weather was a challenge in contrast to last year’s GreenBuild convention in temperate San Francisco. Coming north from Orlando our blood was a little too thin to be comfortable outdoors, but that only motivated us to spend more time on the exhibit floor.
The Philadelphia Convention Center is a vast venue covering over three city blocks and several levels. People were easily dispersed between the dozens of classes offered, exhibit hall, and other scheduled events. We never felt too crowded in the exhibit hall and enjoyed the opportunity to talk with many of our friends already featured on our RESOURCES page on NetZeroMax.com.
Our personal observations of GreenBuild 2013 are:
- USGBC always puts on a great convention and this year was no exception.
- Attending GreenBuild provides the easiest way to stay current and connected with the newest advancements in sustainable design methods and products.
- In general, few new (if any) ground breaking products were introduced this year. Many exhibitors scaled back their exhibitor space from last year in San Francisco.
- There seemed to be an emphasis on commercial products with little attention to residential.
- Solar panel and thin-film products/systems were not featured at GreenBuild, which tells me they are relying on their own convention to promote their products. Even so, I was surprise to not see solar systems on exhibit.
- More water harvesting companies were exhibiting this year, which is a welcome site. This is an area of sustainable design that needs more attention.
- I was pleased to see many daylighting exhibitors promoting commercial and residential products. In fact, we are planning on installing two 14” Solatubes in our home soon.
- All the plumbing manufacturers were promoting their products that comply with WaterSource low-flow requirements. Waterless urinals seem to be on the “outs” . . . not too many featured as in previous years.
- If I was to point to one thing on the exhibit floor that “wowed” me, I’d have to point to the two exhibits featuring a two-car electric recharging car port, with solar panels on the roof. One exhibit featured a Tesla roadster and the other included the new BMW plug in. The BMW recharging carport cost only $50,000. Not bad!
All in all I felt like this year’s GreenBuild convention was a victim of the ongoing sluggish economy and less than optimistic outlook for 2014. I applaud all the exhibitors who braved the cold weather and expense to stay connected with the sustainable design community. It is very encouraging to be a part of something that is making such a significant difference in our lives and communities. Regardless of which way the economic “winds” are blowing, green building products will continue to improve and proliferate, until the decision to build Net Zero is no longer considered extreme, fringe, or out-of-the-norm. The technology is HERE NOW to make Net Zero happen. Let’s get going!
GreenBuild 2014 is in New Orleans, LA. I better start preparing now!
By Brent Sauser
For those of you who remain unconvinced that shipping containers can be utilized as a resource for human habitation and not look out of place, I invite you to view the attached animations of a shipping container townhome development that demonstrates an efficient and aesthetically pleasing community.
Each 2-story Net Zero townhouse is 1,280 SF (gross), two bedrooms with balconies, with an entry porch and back patio. A living room, kitchen, and family room are located on the first floor.
Sometimes it makes more sense to think INSIDE the box! For further information regarding shipping container townhouses, please contact dbs Archtiects PLLC.
by Brent Sauser
The recently completed Salt Lake City Public Safety Building boasts the first Net Zero building of its size in the USA to achieve a Net Zero rating. The building covers over 174,000 SF, comprising two underground floors for parking and four above ground levels housing the Salt Lake City police, fire departments, and emergency operations dispatch center.
The Net Zero Public Safety Building was financed through a $125 million bond passed in 2009 to replace the existing outdated facilities. Not only does the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building achieve Net Zero, but can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, permitting occupants to continue working during and after the event.
Net Zero features include:
- LED lighting
- Solar water heating system
- Radiant floor heating and cooling system
- Solar canopy featuring photovoltaic integrated glass panels
- Offsite solar energy farm
- Roof top vegetation
- Strategically placed windows
A building of comparable size constructed without any Net Zero systems would generate over 2,670 metric tons of greenhouse gases, while the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building generates only 524 metric tons of greenhouse gasses a year. An Energy Star rating of 100 was awarded because of its energy efficiency and reduction in emissions. For further information regarding the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building please click on the following:
by Brent Sauser
Located nearby the famous Villages of Central Florida is a new residential development called Green Key Village. It is a three phase residential subdivision that, from a distance, may appear just like all the other residential communities surrounding the Villages. However, closer observation of Green Key Village will reveal a significant, quantum leap difference from all the others. Green Key Village comprises single family residences that are all NET ZERO construction. Let me repeat that . . . . EVERY MODEL BUILT IN GREEN KEY VILLAGE IS DESIGNED AND CONSTRUCTED TO ACHIEVE NET ZERO! Think of it . . . three phases of construction comprising dozens of single family homes that produce more power than they consume. Amazing, simply amazing!
Green Key Village further proves that to achieve Net Zero the architecture does not have to appear goofy. Quite the contrary, the Bahamas style of the Florida Keys provides a fitting host for the various components utilized to obtain an energy independent solution. The 7.02kW solar array fits in nicely, along with the GE heat pump water heater and manifold PEX plumbing system. Open cell foam insulation fills the 2×4 stud walls, with 5 inches of open cell foam along the underside of the roof, making the attic part of the overall building envelope. Placing the water heater and HVAC heat pump in the conditioned attic space allows for shorter duct runs, and smaller HVAC system (2 ton instead of 4 ton). High ceilings of 10ft and 12ft allow the hot air to rise with ceiling fans gently circulating the air in each space.
WaterSource plumbing fixtures and EnergyStar appliances are a part of the overall energy efficient planning for each Green Key Village model. Low-E and low SHGC windows are provided throughout.
Not only is every home in Green Key Village Net Zero, but the real story is HOW they determined the most cost effective and energy efficient, Net Zero approach for each residence. Green Key Village utilized the time saving ekotrope software (featured in a previous article on NetZeroMax.com). This software calculates the best possible combination of Net Zero components to achieve the most cost effective solution, while optimizing the greatest potential for energy efficiency.
Green Key Village is definitely worth checking out, whether via website or in person. I’ve done both. I applaud all those who took the risk to make Green Key Village a reality. Hopefully, more will follow. Net Zero is a here and now reality. Green Key Village is a vibrant example of how Net Zero can be integrated into design and construction with very little visual fanfare or sacrifice. We don’t have to give up our expected creature comforts to live a Net Zero lifestyle. Anyone from Green Key Village will be happy to tell you that!
For further information regarding Green Key Village CLICK HERE.
For further information regarding ekotrope software CLICK HERE.
By Brent Sauser
Achieving Net Zero for any project takes careful attention and planning. So many passive and active design considerations need to be made that best fit the specific building requirements, site location, and available budget. Going Net Zero is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. How can a designer be certain that the Net Zero decisions made are the most effective and efficient to achieve Net Zero without unnecessary additional cost? If only there was a software available that could capture the necessary design parameters and provide an optimized Net Zero solution.
Introducing ekotrope. Ekotrope is a Net Zero optimization software that lowers construction costs while increasing energy efficiency, enabling Architects to design Net Zero buildings at lower construction and operational costs. This is done by analyzing the entire building during the design phase and comparing different Net Zero component configurations. Components can be added or deleted during the process to assure the most cost effective, energy efficient solution. Architects and builders can easily measure and visualize energy trade-offs with each iteration.
Results show that ekotrope software has saved between 2% to 10 %, while making the same building up to 40% more energy efficient.
by Brent Sauser
GreenBuild 2013, USGBC’s annual convention, is less than two weeks away. Tens of thousands will converge at the Philadelphia, PA Convention Center to learn the latest in sustainable design and green building technologies and methodologies. LEED v.4 will also be launched.
NetZeroMax.com will be there to bring you the most up to date information regarding new and innovative products that will increase your Net Zero efficiency and reduce your overall implementation costs. You will see us wandering the exhibit halls on Wednesday and Thursday of GreenBuild 2013. We look forward to seeing you there.
By Beth Buczynski
More companies and organizations are finally putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainability. Most recently, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which provides non-profit grants for conservation and science, announced that its new headquarters had achieved Net Zero Energy Building Certification through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).
This is no small feat as the building, located at 343 Second Street in Los Altos, Calif., clocks in at about 49,000 square feet. It took careful planning and lots of determination on the part of the Foundation to achieve the net zero status. As of this week, however, it has achieved the goal of operating its headquarters building at net zero energy by generating more than enough electricity to meet its needs during the first full year of occupancy.
While the Packard Foundation’s main goal is to support the development of science and technology, people are at the center of its mission. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than in how they chose to build their new headquarters.
“The Packard Foundation believes that the future of the planet’s health greatly depends on how we live and work today,” said Susan Packard Orr, board chair of the Foundation. “My parents, David and Lucile Packard, cared deeply about science and technology as a means to effect positive change in the lives of real people, everywhere. I am sure they would see their values reflected in this important achievement that’s been realized through the Foundation’s new headquarters.”
Sustainable strategies that allowed the building to achieve Net Zero status (as well as LEED Platinum certification) include:
- Electricity production via 915 rooftop solar panels
- Effective use of daylight to supplement artificial lighting
- Efficient heating and cooling using innovative chilled beam technology
- Storing up to 20,000 gallons of rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing
- Use of living green roof and rooftop gutters to assist with rainwater collection
- Recycling 95% of materials from pre-existing buildings
- Crafting all interior doors from locally salvaged eucalyptus trees
- 100% outside air for ventilation
- Desktop alerts that indicate when doors and windows can be opened for natural ventilation
“The Net Zero Energy Building Certification of the Packard Foundation building is significant to ILFI because it shows that it is possible for large buildings to live within their energy means,” said Amanda Sturgeon, Vice President of the Living Building Challenge for ILFI. “The Packard Foundation has shown that organizations do not need to trade off comfort to achieve net zero energy. They have shown it is possible to build and operate buildings that meet these dual goals.”
Want to know more about how they did it? CLICK HERE!
Top: David Livingston
Middle: Jeremy Bitterman
Bottom: Jeremy Bitterman
By Brent Sauser
While traditional silicon-based solar panel technology continues to improve in efficiency and cost reduction, thin-film solar innovation is stretching the boundaries of application limited only by our imagination. Thin-film solar is less expensive than traditional solar panels, easier to manufacture, and is capable of being integrated into the overall building design, instead of being attached to the roof surface. Although not as efficient as solar panels, thin-film solar can be integrated into a window glazing system becoming part of the building skin; providing UV protection, radiant heat reduction, consistent renewable power during sunlight, and visual transparency. Thin-film permits the architect to integrate solar without it appearing as an afterthought, or secondary to the overall aesthetic approach. Not only has thin-film solar become a part of the window and glazing industry, but other practical applications for thin-film solar are coming on the market. Various types of roofing tile and shingle manufacturers are integrating thin-film solar into their products to permit the entire roof to function as a solar collector. Thin-film is being applied to flexible surfaces for placement between the standing seams of metal roofs, reducing roof penetrations in the process by “sticky back” application.
Thin-film technology has expanded the solar energy palette of renewable energy products, options, and applications. As citizens of the 21st Century we owe it to ourselves, especially those in the design and engineering community, to take advantage of these innovative breakthroughs that will move us further away from non-renewable resources for power, provide a more environmentally sensitive solution that benefits building occupants and the surrounding community . . . . not to mention money back in your pocket! Let’s collectively throw away the obsolete specifications of the past, embrace the realities of today, and “spec” forward.
The following videos demonstrate and explain in greater detail the benefits of thin-film BIPV systems.
by Brent Sauser
Advancements in solar technology are happening every day. Whether with conventional silicon wafer solar panels or new advancements with thin-film solar PV . . . improved technology means greater efficiencies at lower costs.
- The fundamentals of PV technology
- Breakthroughs in thin-film technology, and
- Sharp’s Sunyvista transparent thin-film PV Windows
by Brent Sauser
It is an unwritten understanding that new home improvement products are not generally accepted or considered “mainstream” until the big-box retailers have brought them through their “doors” to the general public. I’m very pleased to announce that Home Depot and Lowe’s, two of the biggest big-box home improvement retailers, have embraced the solar energy kit market BIG TIME! One only needs to visit their websites to review a long list of solar panel kits that range from 1 kW to 9.5 kW in size. Both retailers have partnered with solar kit manufacturer, Grape Solar, and provide the same variety of kit options. Prices vary slightly. For example:
HOME DEPOT: Solar panel kits, from Grape Solar, are available on-line that range from 1 kW ($2,897) to 9.5 kW system ($21,475). A 5 kW solar kit costs $11,350. For more information regarding Home Depot solar panel kits CLICK HERE.
LOWE’S: Solar panel kits, from Grape Solar, are available on-line that range from 1 kW ($2,745) to 9.5 kW system ($21,399). A 5 kW solar kit costs $11,499. For more information regarding Lowe’s solar panel kits CLICK HERE.
When rebates and incentives are factored in, the net cost can be reduced from 30% and up. Federal incentives of 30% are in play through 2016. CLICK HERE to check out the additional incentives and rebates offered in your State.
Solar panel system installation has been simplified significantly to the “do-it-yourself” level, and the Grape Solar system offered by Home Depot and Lowe’s is no exception. Easy to follow instructions and videos are available to assist in installation.
A few minutes on-line will also reveal many other solar panel manufacturers offering kits for sale. The selection has never been greater, the costs lower, and installation easier than now. Freedom from non-renewable power has never been more affordable, more doable! Whether for new construction or remodeling, going solar makes dollars and “sense”.
By Brent Sauser
Does building Net Zero mean giving up on traditional or conventional design? That is a common misunderstanding when I speak to others regarding whether they would be willing to live in a Net Zero, off-the-energy-grid house. The misconception is that they need to give up the aesthetics of traditional or conventional residential architecture. Many of the photos they see look very different from what they are more comfortable with. It’s a leap they are not willing to make.
Net Zero design is the thoughtful and sensitive combination of sustainable design principles with a desired aesthetic appearance, all working in harmony. That is, Net Zero design is not just frosting, but the cake also, where form and function rise together. In reality, a Net Zero design can incorporate most any conventional shape.
As an example of this, please consider the following Net Zero house, designed by dbs Architects PLLC. This is a 2,240SF conventional-looking, two story, three bedroom home that is made from seven 8ft x 9’-6”x 40ft shipping containers. The lower roof incorporates a 9kW solar panel array. The floor plans illustrate a traditional layout that could be used in non-Net Zero construction. Living Net Zero, off the power grid, is not a sacrifice . . . but a giant leap toward energy independence! The cost for this Net Zero home would be in line with a similar home built non-Net Zero. The ways and means are here and now to transition to Net Zero and free ourselves from rising utility costs and live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
For more information regarding how to build Net Zero without sacrificing traditional aesthetics CLICK HERE.
Today or tomorrow marks a significant milestone for NetZeroMax.com. We will be passing the 100,000 site visit milestone since starting this website in July of 2012. We were hoping to surpass this milestone prior to the end of the year, but a recent surge in site visit activity and subscriptions to NetZeroMax.com have accelerated the pace for reaching the goal, for which we are very grateful. The site counter located on the right hand column indicates the real-time ”hits” to the website. In the past 30 days we have averaged close to 350 visits per day, which places us in the “window” for reaching the 100,000 site visit mark today or early tomorrow.
For those of you who have been “on board” with NetZeroMax.com for a while, we hope the passion and urgency for taking the “leap” to Net Zero has come through in our articles, editorials, case studies, and other sustainable and energy efficient promotions. We deeply appreciate your interest and continued patronage to this website. Our per day viewership is increasing as well as the number of subscribers to the site. We are very pleased to welcome our Net Zero friends in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, several of whom are now subscribers.
It is very possible that NetZeroMax.com is becoming a part of the educational curriculum for students interested in learning more about Net Zero design and construction. Green building and sustainable design encompasses a wide spectrum of subjects. NetZeroMax.com focuses on the singular goal of becoming energy independent by providing renewable, sustainable energy on site. Establishing Net Zero energy independence as the priority enables the implementation of many other sustainable design features to help achieve freedom from the power grid.
NetZeroMax.com made the decision early on to NOT clutter the website with Google ads. Our fundamental objective has been to promote Net Zero design through renewable means, and provide information that would (hopefully) stimulate the reader to design and build Net Zero . . . as well as help accelerate the conversion to Net Zero, without the distraction of advertising. NetZeroMax.com is NOT a revenue generator and is not meant to be. We are happy to provide this service at our own time and expense.
Featured at the top of the right hand column is an architectural firm, dbs Architect PLLC. This is the ONLY intentional ad placed on this website. Brent Sauser is the owner and author of NetZeroMax.com and President of dbs Architects PLLC. For those of you who are serious about making your next project Net Zero, we encourage you to contact Brent Sauser at dbs Architects PLLC. He will bring his experience and Net Zero passion to any project or opportunity you may have. Brent Sauser can make your project a sustainable, renewable reality. Go to www.dbsArchitectsPLLC.com to begin your Net Zero solution!
We encourage you to subscribe to NetZeroMax.com as we strive to increase our daily “hit” count and reach our next milestone of 200,000 site visits in record time. Pass the word!
By Brent Sauser
The movement toward sustainable design and construction is not a simple transition that will occur overnight. It involves rethinking every facet of how we have done things in the past, and ask ourselves if there is a faster, better, safer, cheaper, and “greener” way to do it. Over the past 20 years many have embraced this question and have introduced to the design and building market countless products, systems, and innovations. Taken as a whole, these innovations have helped to conserve energy, reduce waste, provide a healthier indoor air quality, and encourage a more sensitive approach to our built environment. It would be a challenge for you to think of any building-related products that have NOT been influenced by the Green Movement. Green organizations have taken root promoting a sustainable approach to building, such as (to name a few):
- US Green Building Council-LEED (USGBC)
- Green Globes (Canadian based certification system)
- BREEAM (UK and Europe certification system)
- DGNB (European certification system)
- Energy Star (Energy efficient appliances and other products)
- Water Sense (High efficiency plumbing fixtures that conserve water)
- Cradle to Cradle (Environmentally sensitive approach to creation of products from inception to ease of reuse)
- The Living Building Challenge (Defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment)
Defender Technologies has taken on the traditional ways to build walls, and has created “a better mouse trap”. Please refer to the two videos below. Not only is this new wall system environmentally sensitive, but will withstand the devastating wind forces from tornadoes and hurricanes. This new system uses less wood, and provides a safe, energy efficient shell due to the thermal mass of the building envelope. This system also resists fire, water intrusion, and termites. I invite you to take a close look at this product, especially if you are planning to build in the southeast region, or anywhere near Oklahoma. I am told that costs are comparable to wood stud construction.
For further information regarding this wall system technology, please CLICK HERE.
At a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East – coupled with rising gasoline prices across the United States – there is finally some good news on the energy front. America’s solar energy industry is currently on pace to achieve a record-shattering year.
A new market analysis by SEIA and GTM Research shows the U.S. market installed 832 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) installations in the second quarter of this year – a whopping 15 percent increase over the first three months of 2013.
So what does this mean? Well, for starters, there are now 9,370 MW of solar electric capacity in the United States – which is enough clean electricity to power more than 1.5 million American homes, including the White House!
Here are some other key findings of the report:
- The U.S. residential market grew by 48 percent over Q2 2012.
- Solar is now more affordable than ever. Average PV system prices have declined by more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2011 – and by more than 50 percent since the beginning of 2010.
- What’s more, average module prices have declined by over 60 percent since the beginning of 2011.
- The U.S. PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) markets remain on pace for a record year in 2013. SEIA/GTM project that 4,400 MW of PV and more than 900 MW of CSP will come online throughout this year.
Why isn’t this front page news? Well, here’s the “dirty” little secret that opponents of clean, renewable energy don’t want you to know: Solar is boosting the U.S. economy, while helping to protect our environment.
Today, solar employs nearly 120,000 Americans at 5,600 companies, most of which are small businesses spread all across America, making solar one of the fastest-growing industries in America.
Right now, there are 38 utility-scale, clean energy solar projects under construction in the United States – utilizing both CSP and PV technologies – putting thousands of electricians, steelworkers and laborers to work, while also helping to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. These facilities, along with rooftop solar on homes, businesses and schools, will generate clean electricity for generations to come.
In addition, innovative solar heating and cooling systems are offering American consumers cost-efficient, effective options for meeting their energy needs, while lowering their utility bills.
Considered together, this all adds up to a huge shot-in-the-arm for the U.S. economy. Yet solar is truly the definition of a “twofer,” because we’re also helping the world to fight climate change.
It’s estimated that the 9.37 GW of solar electric capacity currently installed will displace 9,232,122 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually (effectively offsetting the need to plant 236 million trees). This is equivalent to:
- Displacing the emissions produced from burning nearly 40,000 railcars’ worth of coal.
- Removing 1.9 million cars from the road.
- Displacing the emissions produced from burning the gasoline contained in 121,764 tanker trucks.
- Replacing almost 3 coal-fired power plants with clean solar energy.
Take a few minutes to read the report, and you will see why solar is a such growing and important part of America’s future. Today, we’re helping to create new jobs, grow the U.S. economy, strengthen our nation’s long-term energy security and fight climate change.
Even as this new report comes out, the debate continues over how long oil, natural gas and coal reserves will last before becoming completely depleted. 100 years? 200 years? Maybe 300 years at most?
Then remember this: The life expectancy of the sun is about 5 billion years – give or take a millennia.
Finally, repeat after me: Hail solar.
Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO
By Brent Sauser
When considering the prospect of using shipping containers as a building resource, some curl up their nose and ask, “Are they strong enough?”, or “Can they sustain a structural load?” Granted, not too much is known regarding the structural integrity of a common shipping container. Consider that in transport, shipping containers stack several high while fully loaded, enduring constant wave motion and shifting of contents.
Permit me to share with you an interesting You Tube video that details how shipping containers are made. I am confident it will help convince you that shipping containers are more than adequate to function in the construction industry.
By Brent Sauser
Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Yet, consider the priorities that have motivated construction over the past 50 years. Depending on which side of the bottom line you stand on will determine if your assessment is positive or not. For those who feel pretty good about it, are probably doing very well financially. For all the others, how is it working for you? With the almighty dollar as the predominate motivator, those who benefited most did so (in general) at the expense of the environment, the unsuspecting buyer, and common sense. Oh sure, they may have paid lip service to how important these other factors are, but the GO, NO GO decision usually has been based on the margin of profit obtainable.
Knowing no other alternative, the gullible buyer “bought” into the bottom line agenda thinking it to be the best (and only) standard for conventional construction. Decades have passed and very little has changed. The movement toward a greener, more energy efficient built environment is slowly gaining speed, but still too much construction is holding on to the outdated, 20th Century, dollar driven standard. I don’t need to travel far to find new housing developments featuring monster sized homes that look like all the others . . . bigger versions of their smaller counterparts. They are monsters not only because of their size, but are beasts when it comes to energy consumption. These unsuspecting buyers have not considered that energy costs are going to continue to rise. Just ask those living in Hawaii how they feel about their power bills. Continuing to build as we have in the past and expecting a change in our environment is nothing short of INSANITY!
Significant and meaningful change that demonstrates measurable energy efficiency and compatibility with the environment, requires a change from the singular, dollar driven, bottom line, to the Triple Bottom Line. The Triple Bottom Line provides long term benefits that are sustainable, not only for the buyer, but for the environment, and community.
One creative way to embrace the Triple Bottom Line is by thinking inside the BOX. The trade imbalance with China has resulted in a countless supply of shipping containers that are choking our ports. One way to relieve the environmental blight is to reuse the containers in an entirely different context. This “Up-Use” of a readily available resource (at very low cost) may sound insane from a conventional standard, but using the BOX to think outside the box can provide the results the Triple Bottom Line is promoting . . . . and that is not insane, but just good ole common sense.
LET’S GET GOING!
The following Net Zero, Shipping Container Townhouse design provided by dbs Architects PLLC:
By Brent Sauser
Change is not a four-letter word! History provides countless examples of the positive effect change can bring. Yet, when thrust upon us we often think of change with more anxiety than anticipation. It simply is not in our DNA to embrace change with rapt enthusiasm. However, over the course of time, and especially within the past century significant, positive, and life enhancing change has transformed each of us individually and as a community. One need look no further than the rapid evolution of computers and communication technology, transportation and aerospace advancements, as well as the growing movement toward energy efficient design, to see the undeniable positive impacts. As this energy efficient design movement continues forward toward the goal of Net Zero construction (or producing more energy on site than consuming), the natural partner in this transition is the blending of factory built, efficiently made, low cost, modular construction.
Modern day modular construction is not your grandmother’s trailer home . . . . not by a long shot. LEED compliant, energy efficient, and low cost modular construction can be achieved in any size and for any application, limited only by your imagination. Construction time is reduced, on site waste is virtually eliminated, and the level of quality control is unmatched. Working a Net Zero solution into any modular design can be accomplished without blowing the budget.
I invite you to take a look at the videos below and check out the website for the new Global Links Corporation modular apartment/condo by CLICKING HERE. These are just a few examples of the many companies that are facing CHANGE square in the eye. It is up to us to determine who will blink first!
by Brent Sauser
There’s been so much talk about thinking outside the “box” over the past several years that we have looked past the value of the box itself. The box I refer to is the common, utilitarian shipping container. Relied upon for decades as the primary source for transporting goods and merchandise all over the world, the shipping container is becoming much more than a mere storage device. The box itself has become an effective construction resource for designers to experiment far beyond its storage capabilities. Limited only by the depth of their imagination, more and more shipping containers are appearing in urban and rural locations in unique sizes and shapes, whether commercial or residential in application.
The attention toward recycling shipping containers not only helps to reduce the surplus, but opens the door for new, unique designs that contribute to the overall community character. The relative low cost of shipping containers help to control construction costs. Because of their structural integrity, each container is designed to support several others stacked on top of each other.
Shipping containers and modular pre-fabrication go hand in hand. After all, the box is a self-contained unit that is the perfect shape and size for transporting via ship, rail, or truck to its destination. Depending on the actual design and number of containers used, the interior can be pre-fabricated in controlled conditions, which reduces the overall costs. Once on site, the pieces can be assembled in preparation for the finishing touches. Construction time is reduced and construction waste is virtually eliminated.
dbs Architects PLLC has created a pre-fabricated, apartment/ condominium design that features the use of 8’-0” wide x 9’-6” high x 40’-0” long shipping containers. Two containers are spaced 12 feet apart with the area in between comprising a 12ft x 28ft modular unit of similar construction. The total net square footage is 917sf, featuring two bedrooms, kitchen, dining area, living area, patio/balcony, and bath. The open layout optimizes useable space with a minimum of circulation space. All lighting is LED. The plumbing fixtures are all low-flow type and WaterSource compliant. Appliances are Energy Star compliant. Efficient wall and ceiling insulation, along with low-E window fixtures help to conserve energy and assure a tightly sealed, quiet environment. A ductless HVAC system is provided because of its greater efficiency, without the use of ductwork to preserve optimum ceiling height.
Designed by dbs Architects PLLC
Public emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime, and in any form. Local, State, and Federal agencies are trying to address the issue by constructing facilities that provide a “first response” to any potential public threat. Whether it’s weapons of mass destruction, chemical, or biological attack, etc., these first responders utilize CST facilities to train and prepare for any possible situation. Specialized vehicles are equipped for any contingency and are housed in the “Bay Areas”. This space is climate (humidity) controlled to reduce maintenance and extend vehicle life. A Command Center is included becoming a well-equipped central location with the capability of accessing all possible resources from any government agency. Two Classrooms are provided for training existing and future first responders.
Passive solar design features have been incorporated to capture illumination from the south, with overhangs to provide shade in the summer; angle windows on the east and west elevations to avoid direct heat gain (especially on the west side); south orientation on an east/west axis to optimize energy efficiency; R48 insulation at the roof and R24 insulation in the walls; LED lighting throughout; Water Sense and Energy Star fixtures and appliances; high efficiency mechanical system; LEED Silver Certification; and AT/FP (anti-terrorism force protection) compliant. Energy efficient but not energy independent, the south facing lower roof can be retrofitted with solar panels to achieve Net Zero in the future.
By Brent Sauser
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the aloha state of Hawaii, who leads the nation in solar power conversions for residential and commercial buildings. 2.6% of the total power generated in Hawaii is from solar photovoltaic systems and wind generators. Arizona comes in a close second with 2.4% renewable power generated.
The motivation to go solar in Hawaii has come principally from two sources; 1) Climbing energy utility costs due to the increasing cost of importing oil; and 2) Favorable state incentives to go solar. Hawaii gives roughly the lesser of 35% of costs or $5,000 for a residential system and up to $500,000 for a commercial installation. Typical monthly power bills for residential can range from $350 to over $500, and the public utility can adjust rates on a monthly basis to compensate for the volatile oil prices.
Escalating utility bills plus generous incentives from the state (not to mention the federal energy rebates) created the perfect storm for conversion to renewable energy. At first, this appeared to be accomplishing what the legislators had planned, that is, a rapid conversion over to renewable energy and reducing dependency on expensive imported oil. It was meeting the overall state objective to have 40% of all power needs provided by renewable resources by 2030. However, as interest grew and more homes and businesses took advantage of the incentives and rebates, the legislators soon discovered they did not bank enough funds to cover the rebates. In 2011, Hawaii paid $65.4 million in rebates, based on tax returns. In 2012, the amount tripled. If the rebate and incentive program is left unchanged it is projected to balloon to $2.1 billion . . . . in a state that is deep in the RED budget-wise.
Now that the solar incentive “Genie” is out of the bottle it is no easy task to get him to return to his cramped quarters. The Hawaii state legislators are attempting to modify the rebate program with heavy resistance. The solar industry, many of whom relocated their businesses to support the boom, cry foul and are lobbying for the state to look elsewhere to balance their budget. Added to the concern is the power utility now claiming that those increasing numbers who are off the power grid are not paying their fair share of the fixed costs and should pay a monthly fee for not being on the power grid. That same argument is being waged in Arizona and California.
The Hawaii state legislators are currently out of session and won’t reconvene until 2014. So . . . that means the generous rebates are still in effect. However, I predict that this time next year the Hawaii renewable energy rebate program will NOT be as generous and the renewable energy conversion boom will come to a screeching halt. Time will tell.
For further information regarding the Hawaii energy rebate program and the issues associated with it, please CLICK HERE.
By Brent Sauser
The PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Program began in 2010 in support of the 2008 California mandate that all new residential construction comply with ZNE design requirements by 2020 and that all new commercial construction be ZNE compliant by 2030. This pilot program “promotes California’s long term energy goals through a portfolio of research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects around ZNE buildings together with complementary education, outreach and information activities”.
Whether referred to as Net Zero Energy or Zero Net Energy the results are the same. This pilot program gives further evidence of the growing movement toward becoming power-grid-free by producing 100% renewable energy on site. It also shows that this is more than a trend or fad. Net Zero energy independence IS the future and can be achieved here and now. We don’t have to wait or settle for an energy dependent solution that will be forever hostage to ever increasing utility costs. The movement toward Net Zero construction is gaining momentum as more and more private, public, commercial, and government entities make the decision to build Net Zero.
For more information regarding the PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Program CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
A year ago NetZeroMax.com was launched with the objective of spreading the “good news” about Net Zero design and construction, as well as accelerating the transition from 20th Century power-grid dependence to 21st Century energy independence. As more Net Zero articles were posted more like-minded individuals were drawn to the website. To date NetZeroMax.com has enjoyed over 77,000 visits to the website, with dozens of subscribers from all over the world. Comments have been received from South America, China, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere expressing interest in the website with words of encouragement. More and more buildings are going Net Zero than ever before. Net Zero has moved off the starting point and is slowly gaining main-stream momentum.
However, so much is yet to be done. Too many people, when asked if they know what “Net Zero” is, respond that Net Zero relates to a dial-up internet service provider . . . . which, in fact, it does. But, Net Zero is so much more! Technology continues to make advancements that brings greater attention to building Net Zero, with improvements to product efficiencies at lower costs. Owners are insisting on energy efficient systems that move in the Net Zero direction. The new LEED version 4.0 has been approved and will be launched at the GreenBuild 2013 convention this November in Philadelphia. NetZeroMax.com will be there! LEED v.4.0 moves building design closer to a Net Zero solution. Federal, state, and local codes are requiring greater energy efficient solutions. All of this contributes to the collective goal of becoming a 100% Net Zero society by 2030.
Consider this . . . any building that is constructed today that is NOT built to Net Zero standards will have to compete with buildings constructed to Net Zero standards after the year 2030. Assuming a minimum building life of 50 years, buildings constructed today that are far short of Net Zero compliance will suffer a significant economic resale and equity disadvantage, and would still be subject to ever increasing utility costs that ultimately impact lease fees. Given the choice of buying an energy dependent office building or a Net Zero office building, which would you choose? Which one has the greater ability to attract customers and retain them? We are only 17 years away from 2030 and the cross-over to 100% Net Zero construction. Forward thinking people are catching the vision to build Net Zero and enjoy the economic benefits now instead of waiting until 2030.
More needs to be done to spread the Net Zero “word” to the masses. NetZeroMax.com is committed to doing our part in that vital effort. We express sincere appreciation to all those who have subscribed and continue to visit our website for new and interesting Net Zero information. With the beginning of our 2nd year on-line NetZeroMax.com is in the process of expanding our effort to spread the Net Zero “good news” by way of other media. Stay tuned for more information in that regard.
by Brent Sauser
The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado recently completed their flagship Net Zero Research Support Facility (RSF). This 360,000 square foot office building was constructed at about $250sf and is certified to a Platinum LEED level. The RSF has won numerous awards for its innovative design and sustainable design features.
The RSF building showcases numerous high performance design features, passive energy strategies, and renewable energy technologies. It is a prototype for the future of large scale ultra efficient buildings. NREL documentation states the following:
1. Building orientation:
The relatively narrow floor plate (60′ wide) enables daylighting and natural ventilation for all occupants. Building orientation and geometry minimizes east and west glazing. North and south glazing is optimally sized and shaded to provide daylighting while minimizing unwanted heat losses and gains.
2. Labyrinth thermal storage:
A labyrinth of massive concrete structures is in the RSF crawl space. The labyrinth stores thermal energy and provides additional capacity for passive heating of the building.
3. Transpired solar collectors:
Outside ventilation air is passively preheated via a transpired solar collector (a technology developed by NREL) on the building’s south facing wall before delivery to the labyrinth and occupied space.
100 percent of the workstations are daylit. Daylight enters the upper portions of the south facing windows and is reflected to the ceiling and deep into the space with light reflecting devices.
5. Triple glazed, operable windows with individual sunshades:
Aggressive window shading is designed to address different orientations and positions of glazed openings. Occupants can open some windows to bring in fresh air and cool the building naturally.
6. Precast concrete insulated panels:
A thermally massive exterior wall assembly using an insulated precast concrete panel system provides significant thermal mass to moderate the building’s internal temperature.
7. Radiant heating and cooling:
Approximately 42 miles of radiant piping runs through all floors of the building, using water as the cooling and heating medium in the majority of workspaces—instead of forced air.
Constructing a building of this size to achieve Net Zero is further evidence that the technology exists currently here and now to go Net Zero. At around $250 square foot, going Net Zero does not have to break the budget.
For further information regarding the NREL RSF facility please CLICK HERE.
Top photo credit: Pat Corkery
Middle photo credit: Dennis Schroeder
Bottom photo credit: Dennis Schroeder
by Brent Sauser
Living off the power grid is still a radical concept for most people. Images of grass huts and log cabins come to mind. Granted, a Net Zero life-style for our ancestors was the norm, without any other choice. They learned to live off the land in harmony with the seasons of the year. It simply was the only way of life. However, as modern technology continued to improve, our choices expanded. We now enjoy a life-style of expected creature comforts that, for the most part, are common place in society . . . choices any 19th century king would covet. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the natural cycles of the seasons, with energy dependent mechanical and electrical systems that sustain artificial environments inside, regardless of what is going on outside. It seems easier to turn on the air conditioning than to open a window! We have been raised to believe that this is progress. This way of thinking reflects a 20th century mentality . . . back in a time when cost effective, viable energy alternatives that could take us off the power grid were not available, and yet allow us to maintain a large portion of our expected creature comforts.
Today, however, is a much different story. There is a growing awareness for the need to be more environmentally sensitive in design and construction, as well as placing a greater focus on sustainable design. Federal, State, and local governmental agencies have aligned themselves to measureable green building programs (i.e. LEED by USGBC) while numerous zoning ordinances are being modified to reflect a more sensitive and sustainable approach to building and development. This is being accomplished due to the amazing advancements with Net Zero technology. Utilizing smart passive design principles with an appropriate amount of high-tech systems, Net Zero is not only a real possibility, but a cost effective one. Passive features such as: earth integration, clerestory light, skylights, triple low-e glazing, super insulation, building materials, building orientation, etc., help to bring the building a majority of the way to Net Zero. Adding modest amounts of high-tech options bridges the remaining gap to achieving Net Zero.
We are at an exciting time of transition. We can continue to use the obsolete specifications of the 20th century, or embrace the wide variety of cost effective, high-tech options that will give your building added energy flexibility and money back in your pocket. Welcome to the exciting options of Net Zero design! Welcome to the 21st Century . . . where we can have it all and give something back in the process!
By Brent Sauser
“Researchers at the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conclude that significant energy savings can be achieved by varying ventilation levels based on the number of people in a given space.”
Aren’t we doing that already? Well . . . . no. Most sensor-based ventilation systems run full blast even if only one person is in the room. That’s why you might feel cold in a conference room while waiting for the others to arrive. Current occupancy sensors turn off the lights automatically when the room is unoccupied. New sensor systems will turn off the lights as well as determine the number of occupants in a room and adjust the ventilation fan speed accordingly without sacrificing comfort. When used for ventilation and lighting these sensors can save as much as 28% energy, compared to current sensors.
For further information regarding this new sensor research please CLICK HERE.
By Brent Sauser
As an individual deeply committed to the Net Zero movement, I am always searching for leading edge news that can provide evidence of significant advancement in the ever-evolving Green Building arena. On rare occasion I come across something so amazingly different, so radical in concept, so potentially revolutionary, that one can’t help but think it’s too good to be true!
Enter the V3 Solar “Spin Cell”. To better understand the spin cell technology, the following is a portion of a V3 Spin Cell review provided by Bill Rever, Independent Consultant (December 18, 2012):
“The V3 Solar system is fundamentally a rotating assembly of photovoltaic cells under a structure of lenses that concentrate light onto the moving cells. The nominal shape of both the lens arrangement and the assembly of cells is conical, although this shape could be different if more optimal forms emerge in the design process. The design is referred to as the “Spin Cell”. The essential characteristics of the design are:
- Captures light from the full hemisphere of the sky to maximize the use of available insolation
- Motion of the cell assembly provides cooling solving a fundamental problem of systems using concentration
- The moving cell assembly can be used to produce an alternating current (ac) output directly without a traditional inverter
- The cooling effect is sufficient to allow for the use of mass produced one sun cells available from hundreds of manufacturers globally
- Enhanced efficiency is hypothesized via a “cascade effect” whereby cells retain and build some energy as they pass by the sequence of lenses
- The system is self-contained and doesn’t require additional racking and mounting – it can be mounted directly to earth screws, poles or other low cost foundations.”
Information provided on the V3 Solar website states:
“The Spin Cell’s ability to concentrate light dramatically reduces the amount of PV required for a given output, thus reducing the cost per watt. The improved efficiency of the PV means that less light is required to create the same amount of watts, further reducing costs and improving efficiency of the overall unit. With a 20X concentration of the sunlight, the Spin Cell can produce the same amount of power while using 5% of the PV material. Since the lensing costs 92% less than the PV material, this lowers the cost/watt.”
Some of the components are still patent pending and testing is being conducted on prototypes to verify and establish the extent of V3’s Spin Cell capability. Without doubt, this new approach to solar energy could, if testing proves out, change the course of solar technology as we know it. Flat panel manufacturers are not excited about it and have been quite vocal in their opposition to spin cell technology. Until the tests are in, we will not know for sure if this is fact or fraud. I can only hope that the technology turns out to be factual, but will reserve my endorsement until the results are in.
In the mean time . . . . I have my fingers crossed!
For further information regarding the V3 Solar Spin Cell CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
Feature Writer: Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff
March 12, 2013
In an effort to demonstrate its level of commitment to Green Building the Army has selected 17 installations with the goal of establishing Net Zero installations by 2020. Doing so will help to conserve energy, water, and reduce waste through recycling, etc., with the principle objective to produce as much energy as they consume over the course of 12 month cycle. The primary focus of attention are bases in the United States, South Korea, and Germany encompassing close to one million square feet of building space.
The U.S Army is the largest energy user in the U.S. with a $1.3 billion yearly utility bill. The Army spent $3.6 billion in liquid fuel in 2012, which opens the door wide for introducing renewable energy as an alternative. A 2011 chart indicated 70% of the energy
used was electric grid and the rest was propane and natural gas. The goal is to reduce energy usage by half. By 2020 participating installations will have transferred from the utility grid and use of propane and natural gas, in favor of alternative, renewable, energy options such as biomass, wind, geothermal, PV solar, and solar hot water, etc.
Ultimately, the push to go Net Zero is not only a cost and environmental benefit to the Army, but one that enhances mission effectiveness. We have a lot of work to do in order to meet the 2020 Net Zero deadline. Let’s get started.
For further information regarding the Army’s march to Net Zero, please CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
Article Source: Asad Syrkett; GreenSource Magazine – May/Junue 2013 Edition
Located in the greater Los Angeles area of Agoura Hills, resides the first phase of the new Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Headquarters. Designed by ZGF Architects the new foundation HQ is seeking LEED Platinum certification and is hoped to achieve a Net Zero energy performance (currently under review). The first of four two-story office buildings, this first phase totals 22,240 square feet, at $24 million. The facility utilizes many passive design features to minimize mechanical means to heat and cool the building. In particular, they are:
- Clerestory windows (improving daylighting)
- East-West building orientation
- Long, narrow rectangular design to allow maximum light exposure
- Automated shades
- Planted roof
- Passive downdraft HVAC system featuring 17 shafts (or chimneys)
- Natural ventilation
- Two-story center atrium to permit natural ventilation and interior daylighting
Active systems include:
- 1,000 SF solar thermal-heating system
- Water-cooled chilling
- 115.2 kW photovoltaic array
The new Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Headquarters is not just a new office complex, but a shining example of what can be done to build Net Zero, reflecting a gentler, more sensitive approach to how man and environment can better coexist. Everyone wins with this approach to design and construction. This project is another well executed example of how we can enjoy our expected creature comforts and in the process, give something back . . . or at the very minimum, remain energy neutral with all on site power demands. This project demonstrates that building in context to nature and the surrounding environment can be achieved with careful planning and attention to passive design principles.
The Net Zero building movement is gaining traction, with more and more Net Zero buildings coming on-line every day. This is not a passing trend or design fad. Net Zero design is here to stay and is only getting bigger, better. The entire design and building community is moving in the Net Zero direction not only because legislation is mandating it . . . but, because it is the right thing to do.
For more information regarding the Conrad N. Foundation Headquarters please CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
Today is Memorial Day . . . a day of sober awareness for the valiant men and women who served this country, and for far too many who paid the ultimate price to preserve and sustain our freedom. This is a day of profound expressions of gratitude. This is a day not only for remembering . . . but never forgetting! On an upper shelf separating our dining room from our living room resides two wood boxes containing the military burial flags of my father and my wife’s father, who both served in WWII. My father also served in the Korean War. We have placed these flags in what we consider a place of honor. We remember our fathers not only for their military service, but for the countless other ways they made a difference in our lives. When we see those flags . . . we remember the full length and breadth of lives well lived.
I can’t help but ask myself, “What difference am I making in the lives of others?” There are so many ways to make a difference if we but only make the effort. Inside each of us lay the seeds of accomplishment, and are capable of great things. These seeds of greatness are nourished by time, persistence, passion, and a lot of sweat. My father and father-in-law, as well as numberless others served so that we could fulfill the measure of our personal creation under the flag of freedom. We honor them when we face the headwinds of adversity and keep moving forward, upward, even if it appears to be new, uncharted territory . . . we keep climbing higher until we reach the summit of success.
We can do this together!
Let’s get started!
By Brent Sauser
The death toll continues to rise as 1st responders and rescuers relentlessly search through the expanse of rubble and waste caused by the EF-4 (Enhanced Fujita scale) tornado that cut a two mile wide and twenty mile long swath up to and through the town of Moore, Oklahoma. The destructive aftermath of such devastation is not new to Moore. In 1999 Moore, Oklahoma was hit head on by an EF-5 tornado where destruction was widespread. Some experts are saying that yesterday’s tornado may be upgraded to an EF-5, but is too early to know for sure. Children are still missing from the direct hit on a local elementary school. But, so far, twenty children are known dead. My heart aches for them, the parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, etc. with this life-changing disaster.
Although I am writing this from Orlando, Florida; Moore, Oklahoma still hits close to home. My daughter and her young family lived in Moore for a few months while her husband attended FAA training. They lived on the second floor of a two-story apartment complex . . . with no basement or place of refuge in the event of a tornado. I recall my daughter expressing some anxiety over this and wondered what she would do in the event of a tornado. Luckily, the weather cooperated until their return to Utah a few months later. The photos of yesterday’s tornado evidence the extreme degree of destruction with mobile homes and wood frame homes. “Structural” framing strewn everywhere. I place the word “structural” in italics because one might question the structural integrity of these homes and buildings, and inquire WHY they couldn’t withstand the brunt of the storm. The story of the Three Little Pigs come to mind.
Seeing this through the discerning eye of an architect with 34 years experience, I am not convinced that we chalk this up to just another tragic event in Tornado Alley. Do we all raise our arms in the air and declare nothing more can be done. After all, these buildings were built to Building Codes and Standards that were upgraded from the Tornado of 1999. Better weather forecasting and warning systems are in place. It could have been so much worse. Perhaps. . . But we need to ask ourselves if we have gone far enough with upgrading the Building Codes and Standards in Tornado Alley. Are we still too intimidated by the singular “bottom line” to not totally embrace the “triple bottom line” that takes into equal consideration the surrounding community. I suspect there is still much room for improvement. Weather warning technology will continue to improve. The question is, if serving the community carries an equal level of importance with the environment and economic factors, will we embrace this opportunity to make the appropriate changes to protect our fellow citizens. May I suggest the following enhancements:
For all construction that is within the region known as Tornado Alley:
- Structural systems (foundation, walls, and roof) will be designed to withstand a minimum of 200mph.
- Mobile homes in this area must be designed to withstand a minimum of 200mph and be anchored to withstand a minimum of 200mph uplift.
- Window and door framing will be constructed to withstand 200mph wind forces.
- Window glazing will meet Miami-Dade requirements for impact resistance.
- All construction shall have an area of refuge, or Safe Room, where floor, walls, and ceiling can withstand 250mph forces. The access door will be rated accordingly.
The above list will help to protect our children and families who expect to be safe in the buildings they live, learn, and worship in. But, what about the extra cost to build to this higher standard? Eventually, the Three Little Pigs ended up in the house made of bricks. They were safe there. I can imagine sometime in the not-to-distant future where yet another EF-5 tornado passes through the town of Moore, Oklahoma, and the aerial photographs show trees down, cars turned over, barns leveled, and shingles everywhere. The wide path of the tornado is clearly evident. Power lines are down, infrastructure needing attention . . . . but not one life lost. Not one! I submit to you that it can be . . . and should be done. Our very lives depend on it. Building smarter and safer is the answer!
by Brent Sauser
UGE recently announced the launch of what they claim is the “most advanced wind turbine yet”. . . VisionAIR:
”VisionAIR is the first turbine of its type to use a proprietary airfoil designed to maximize energy output at moderate wind speeds!”
The VisionAIR wind turbine system is compatible with the UGE “Seamless Grid” hybrid electronic system that UGE introduce a few months ago. For more information regarding the VisionAir wind turbine CLICK on the following: VisionAIR Brochure
by Brent Sauser
My wife and I are blessed to have four wonderful children who remember Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Each child lives in a different time zone with their families, so it is especially exciting to
receive cards and gifts. This year, our youngest son sent his mother Shari’s Berries for Mother’s Day. Shari’s Berries are an assortment of large chocolate covered strawberries. Each chocolate dipped strawberry has a different design of either white, dark or milk chocolate. The gift was an immediate success! The
instructions say to consume the contents within 48 hours, but we beat the deadline by 75%. Without doubt, they were amazing . . . and quite tasty! The strawberries were in remarkably good condition and tasted fresh. I asked to see the packaging.
After careful inspection of the packaging it was no wonder the strawberries could travel overnight delivery from San Diego to Orlando, Florida in such good condition. All six sides inside the card board box were insulated with an inch of foam insulation. But that’s not all. On top of the gift box was placed another piece of 1/2″ insulation covered in foil, and on top of that insulation was a frozen pack of blue ice. Then the top insulation was placed over that to make a very tight (and cool) environment for the berries to travel anywhere in the world.
I concluded that Shari’s Berries placed as much effort in assuring their product reaches its destination as intended, as they took in preparing the berries for shipment. Chocolate and strawberries have a tendency to melt and get mushy at room temperature, so careful attention to how the product is packaged and shipped is a “make-or-break” situation. Shari’s Berries took the time to create a sustainable environment for their berries to travel safely, fresh and as tasty as if purchased directly from their store in San Diego. Sustainable packaging!
Now . . . if we can create a sustainable environment for berries, why can’t we do it for our homes and businesses? The fact is . . . we can, and should. The same principles used to package Shari’s Berries can be used in building design. Implementing passive design principles, much like with Shari’s Berries packaging, as well as other passive features will help to achieve a Net Zero solution without adding to the overall building budget.
We need to build smarter, not bigger! We need to insist upon Net Zero design. If Shari’s Berries can do it . . . so can we!
by Brent Sauser
About one ago my wife and I had to face the dreaded decision to reroof our house. The debate was whether we could put it off another year. We determined that we had put it off long enough. After considerable research and homework regarding the best way to go, we decided on replacing our old worn out roof with a “cool” roof. We chose GAF Timberline Cool Series Shingles – “Antique Slate”. This is an Energy Star product with the following benefits:
- Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.27
- Thermal Emittance: 0.92
- Solar Reflectance Index (SRI): 29
An additional benefit to this is a reduction in the Heat Island effect in urban areas. The Heat Island effect occurs when roofs and other dark surfaces combine to reflect heat back into the atmosphere which causes a higher overall temperature than in rural areas. A cool roof minimizes the solar heat gain of a building by first reflecting incoming sun rays and then by quickly re-emitting the remaining absorbed portion. As a result, the cool roof stays cooler than a traditional roof of similar construction and can contribute to reducing the power demand for air conditioning. Part of the heat radiating from the sun gets reflected, reducing the heat in the attic, and heat going into the house. It may result in 7-15% savings in total cooling costs. Over the past year we have noticed a drop in our power bill of around 10%.
The city of Los Angeles appears to be quickly moving in the direction of including a requirement for “Cool Roofs” in the city’s building code. Cool roofs are already in CAL Green, which took effect in 2011. It is estimated that “by going to cool roofs for new and existing buildings would reduce the Heat Island Effect, save $30 million on energy bills, and cut greenhouse gases the equivalent of 7 million cars off the road for a year – 80% of LA’s carbon footprint.”
Just think . . . all this benefit to you, your community, and the environment for replacing your roof with an Energy Star Cool Roof. There may even be financial incentives to replace your roof! Check it out!
For more information regarding the move to Cool Roofs in Los Angeles . . . CLICK HERE!
by Brent Sauser
It appears more resistance is brewing within the United States over the anticipated release of LEED version 4.0 from the USGBC. Ratification of the new LEED guidelines has been delayed for over a year with the hope for complete implementation in November 2013. However, several States are chiming in with legislation and litigation regarding the degree of exclusivity with LEED v 4.0. Many chemical companies are crying foul, as well as other lumber providers for the possibility of being excluded from the significantly raised “bar” of LEED v4.0. Businesses and jobs are potentially at stake. Not only has litigation resulted, but legislation has been, or is being introduced to block usage of the soon-to-be approved LEED v4.0 guidelines. The following article from the Building Design + Construction periodical (dated April 24, 2013) is evidence of opposition fervor:
House Bill 628 would insert new language in a section of state law that calls for energy- and water-use standards for major public facility construction and renovations. The bill says those projects may use a “nationally recognized high performance environmental building rating system” if that green building program doesn’t use a credit system “disadvantaging materials or products manufactured or produced” in North Carolina.
The bill requires the rating program to award points to wood certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm System—programs that are not eligible for LEED points.”
Net Zero design is compatible in all States and does not threaten businesses or jobs. There is no “bar” to raise with Net Zero. Either you are Net Zero or not. It is easy to measure. Additions or modifications can be provided if needed or desired to achieve Net Zero. Net Zero is supportive and sympathetic to the implementation of as many “green” materials, methods, and systems as possible, but recognizes the fundamental priority is to become power independent from any outside source.
For more information regarding issues with LEED v4.0 please click on the following articles:
by Brent Sauser
Brent Sauser is the owner and creator of NetZeroMax.com. He is also Principal of dbs Architects PLLC. As Principal Architect, Brent Sauser is committed to promoting Net Zero and Sustainable Design principles, and encourages an accelerated transition toward a more environmentally sensitive approach to design and construction. Recognizing the need for professional advocacy I created my own company with this focus and emphasis.
With that in mind, I am very pleased to announce the official launch of my professional website: “dbsArchitectsPLLC.com“. The website is dedicated to the advocacy of Net Zero and Sustainable Design, and compliments this website “NetZeroMax.com“. I invite you to visit dbsArchitectsPLLC.com and review what we have to offer in accelerating the transition to Net Zero design. I would appreciate it if you would subscribe to the website in order to help its standing on the various search engines. The place to do so is located at the bottom of the HOME Page (footer). Also, if you “LIKE” it on Facebook will help to position it higher in the rankings. Thank you for your support in this regard.
dbs Architects PLLC is prepared and ready to answer your Net Zero questions, and look forward to helping your project meet the demands and expectations of the 21st Century.
by D. Brent Sauser
I’m pleased to see that the number of visits to NetZeroMax.com has exceeded well over 50,000 visits. I am grateful to all of you who have found this web site and hope it is a benefit to you. I am especially thankful to the increasing number of NetZeroMax subscribers. I believe the Net Zero movement is accelerating with more and more people gaining an awareness that they do not have to settle for non-sustainable design and construction. With more information comes a more informed community who is empowered to ask the important questions like . . . .
- Is this a Net Zero design?
- Will this project achieve Net Zero?
- What are the Net Zero features?
- What are the long term advantages of NOT building Net Zero?
The following videos feature a variety of Net Zero homes that were constructed within the last two years. Each owner enjoys all the expected creature comforts WITHOUT the whopping monthly electric bill. These are the pioneers that realized that the technology for Net Zero construction is here now . . . and took advantage of it. So can you!
by Brent Sauser
I had the opportunity to attend the Orlando Home and Garden Show recently and was impressed with the increasing number of Net Zero exhibitors. Several solar panel exhibitors were present along with others featuring a variety of Energy Star products for the home. I was very interested to see a few exhibitors featuring high performance window films for existing construction. 3M was there with their noteworthy window film products. However, I was drawn to the EnerLogic window film exhibit. They were demonstrating the virtues of their latest window films . . . . VEP35 and VEP70. They had a thermal imaging camera that provided the performance evidence of their product versus no film and films by others. Of particular note is the percentage of ultraviolet rejection, 99% for VEP35 and VEP70. The solar energy rejected for VEP35 is 76% and 49% for VEP70. Most importantly is their ability for interior reflectance by keeping a greater percentage of heat inside for colder climates.
This is a terrific Net Zero product for existing buildings that can cut your cooling bills by 50% and heating bills by 10%. I encourage you to click on the following links for additional information regarding EnerLogic VEP35 and VEP70. You no longer need to be held hostage to high solar heat gain in the summer or heat loss in the winter . . . just because your home or building is older. Adding these window films would be a one-time expense that will pay big dividends for years to come.
Please click on the following links:
by Brent Sauser
Due to open in August 2013, this 9,500sf, $5.5 million branch library in Berkeley, California will use a combination of passive design and high-tech features to achieve a Net Zero solution. It is estimated that the Berkeley Public Library will receive a LEED Platinum certification and deliver enough electrical power on-site to remain off the utility grid. Using a creative ventilation system, daylighting, radiant floors, and other Net Zero features, the library assures ample lighting during the day without the use of artificial lighting.
It is very encouraging to see Net Zero buildings under construction all over the country. Many have discovered that Net Zero technology offers a wide variety of cost effective options that help to assure an off-the-grid solution . . . and puts money back in your pocket.
Net Zero solutions are here today. If you are thinking of building soon, it makes good financial sense to build Net Zero.
For more information regarding the Net Zero Berkeley Public Library please CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
Evanston, Illinois is not only known for the home of Northwestern University and not so well known for the place of my birth. . . but will now hold the prestigious honor of having the first Net Zero retail store constructed in the United States. Way to go Evanston! Way to go Walgreens!
On March 7, 2013 Walgreens announced plans to build the first Net Zero energy retail store in the United States. This building is designed to produce energy equal or greater than it consumes. This will be accomplished by using 800 solar panels, 2 wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy efficient building materials, LED/daylighting and ultra high efficiency refrigeration. This Walgreens store will serve as a prototype for future Walgreens stores, and will be monitored and studied to determine the correct balance of Net Zero systems to assure a Net Zero solution. Current estimates for this facility is a usage of 200,000 kilowatt hours per year while generating 256,000 kilowatt hours per year. Walgreens will pursue a LEED Platinum certification.
For more information regarding the new Net Zero Walgreens in Evanston, Illinois please CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
When I speak to others regarding the virtues of building Net Zero I usually hear this response, “It sounds great,
but how much more will it cost?” The general perception still remains that achieving Net Zero is a future goal, perhaps in 5 to 10 years. It’s hard to argue the fact that technology will continue to advance that will further reduce material costs and increase product efficiencies. However, it is also a fact that technology has advanced to the point where building Net Zero is cost effective for today’s construction. The attached article explains how cost effective building Net Zero can be. In some states the cost for kilowatt hour (kWh) achieves “grid parity” with the local utility. Efficiencies are such that a private power plant is cost competitive (per kWh) with conventional sources.
NetZeroMax is dedicated to promoting a balanced approach to achieving a Net Zero solution. This balanced approach includes maximizing as many passive design features as practical prior to incorporating more expensive high-tech Net Zero features. Such considerations are:
- Building orientation
- R24 exterior wall insulation
- R48 roof insulation
- Low-E, Double glazed windows (minimum)
- Daylighting (i.e. Solatube, etc)
- Energy Star roof
- LED lighting
- On demand (tankless) water heater
- High efficiency HVAC (ductless or geothermal preferred) SEER 28
- Energy Star appliances
- 5kW Solar array on roof (minimum)
The incorporation of these considerations along with appropriate building sizing can go far in achieving a Net Zero solution. Add more volume and more kW is needed to bridge the gap between passive and high-tech design features. The “sweet spot” for design using a 5kW solar system maximizes at around 2,500 SF depending on location, where 2,000 SF to 2,200 SF is more ideal.
We don’t need to build bigger. We need to build smarter! Doing so will enable the incorporation of the above Net Zero considerations with minimal cost impact. In fact, click here to see all the state and federal incentives and rebates that are offered throughout the USA. These incentives and rebates can account for over 50% savings on the installation of a solar system. That means a 5kW solar system installed at $20,000, with a 50% incentive and rebate, will take only 5.5 years to pay back . . . using a $150 p/mo electrical bill.
This is the 21st century. Isn’t it time to move past the age old, public utility infrastructure, and into the independent freedom that comes from generating energy from your very own on-site private power plant. Not only is there the satisfaction that comes from energy independence, but money in your pocket, and a lot of it. The energy you generate on-site is clean and carbon neutral. It is a benefit to you, the community, and the environment. This isn’t some future whim, but a reality that can be achieved TODAY . . . NOW!
Click on the following for further information regarding the cost effectiveness of building solar and for incentives and rebates in all 50 states of the USA:
Contact: Stuart Raper, Director of External Affairs
Richmond, VA – February 13, 2013 – EarthCraft Virginia is pleased to announce the launch of its Net-Zero Certification program. The program will certify any residential building that produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site, measured annually. Now in its pilot stage, this program is the first of its kind to consist of a two-part certification: “Net-Zero Ready” once the project has successfully met the program design criteria, construction and diagnostic testing goals, and “Net-Zero Certified” once the homeowners have demonstrated that they have lived an energy neutral or positive lifestyle for one year.
Since Architecture 2030 issued The 2030 Challenge in 2006, the building community has seen a significant push towards the construction of energy neutral homes. EarthCraft Virginia’s program not only fills a void for builders looking for a holistic process for site net-zero building construction but also allows consumers the ability to identify a third-party standard for this type of residence. Through the pilot program, EarthCraft Virginia hopes to demonstrate that net-zero energy homes are not only achievable but also affordable.
EarthCraft Virginia’s Net-Zero Certification program will offer unparalleled customized support to the project team during the design and construction process, focusing on the optimization of high performance buildings. The program is targeted to builders, designers and homeowners throughout the Southeast who believe in superior building and the next generation of housing. When ideally combined with the EarthCraft House program, the successful implementation of the Net-Zero Certification program will result in the highest performing green home in the country.
“The Net-Zero program allows us to research low energy design and
construction best practices, while delivering the most high performance residential buildings on the market,” said program manager, Philip Agee. “We are also excited to demonstrate the positive effects these buildings will have in regard to reducing peak load on our aging utility grid.”
EarthCraft Virginia has already seen great success with the initial “Net-Zero Ready” verification of The Delk Residence by Bain-Waring Builders, and the organization is thrilled to have four duplexes recently enroll in the pilot program, but they are seeking more participants. If you are interested, please contact the program manager, Philip Agee, atPhilip.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, including pilot criteria, visit http://www.earthcraftvirginia.org/services/net-zero/.
About EarthCraft Virginia
EarthCraft Virginia, a 501c3 non-profit, was established in 2006 in partnership with the Home Builders Association of Virginia and Southface Energy Institute with assistance from the Virginia Community Development Corporation. The EarthCraft House program, originally founded in 1999 by non-profit Southface and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, serves as a blueprint for energy and resource efficient homes built in the Southeast. Throughout the Southeast the program has certified over 8,000 homes and over 17,000 multifamily dwelling units. For more information on EarthCraft Virginia or the EarthCraft family of programs, please visitwww.earthcraftvirginia.org or www.earthcraft.org.
by Brent Sauser
When you step into your home at night do you switch on all your lights? Of course not. Yet, that is precisely what we do with the most expensive system in the house . . . our HVAC system. When the HVAC comes on, it comes on everywhere in the house, including all the unoccupied rooms. Does that make sense to you? Regardless, that is the traditional way homes in the USA are equipped . . . Central heating and cooling with plenty of leaky ductwork! Considering the cost of energy these days, you would think there must be a less expensive and more efficient and effective way to heat and cool our homes.
The good news is there is a more efficient and effective way to provide HVAC for less cost and with no sacrifice to comfort. This is tried and true technology from years of use in Europe and Asia. The technical term for this technology is Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems. It is more commonly known as Ductless HVAC Systems, or ductless, mini-spilt systems.
While conventional HVAC systems heat and cool the entire interior space (regardless of whether it is in use or not) via ductwork that could be leaking energy by as much as 20% from the ductwork, ductless systems condition a space without the use of ducts, saving space and allowing the unit to be retrofitted into spaces without ducts. Ductless mini-split systems can be designed to cool several rooms, much like what we have come to expect from a conventional central air system. Ductless systems offer individual temperature control and allows for the option to condition occupied spaces through zoning controls. Energy is not wasted in areas that are unoccupied and no loss of efficiency occurs because there is no ductwork. Efficiency levels well above SEER 25 can be expected with a ductless installation. That translates to money back in your pocket!
For more information regarding Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems please CLICK on the following links:
By Brent Sauser
WAY! . . . . Look no further than the new San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters to see the first multi-story, two-hour, fire rated glass stairwell. The two-hour glazing is manufactured by SAFTIFIRST, and the building designed by KMD Architects. The glass enclosed stairwell is effectively located near the main entrance to enhance daylighting and views. The structure achieved a LEED Platinum certification. When is the last time a two-hour emergency stairwell did that for your design?
For additional information regarding two-hour, fire rated glass CLICK HERE.
by Brent Sauser
One area where Net Zero technology is advancing rapidly is with LED lighting. What were considered obstacles a short time ago are no longer an issue. G7 Power has recently identified the benefits, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of using LED light. On December 20, 2012, G7 Power posted the following benefits and advances to LED lighting:
“There are many good reasons for using LED light bulbs. LED bulbs are energy efficient, robust and have a long lifetime. The use of LED bulbs for lighting has been limited up until now, mostly because LED bulbs color rendering had not yet been up to snuff. However, there have been significant improvements in LED technology in recent years and in many areas, the LED bulb now surpasses other bulbs.
LED bulbs switch on instantly and provide their full strength immediately, something other bulbs cannot brag about. The small components in LEDs are also great for dimming lights. With LED bulbs the light doesn’t change color when dimmed, which is what happens with incandescent and halogen lights.
The color properties of a light source are relevant to white light, and are described as color temperature, expressed in Kelvins. Today, a comprehensive selection of LEDs is available to the public. The light from LED sources is either warm (typically 2,700-3,000 K), neutral (3,500-4,500 K) or cold (4,500-10,000 K).
LEDs project all their light forwards, whereas the most common light sources emit light in all directions. This is why LED bulbs are best suited to lamps that project light in one direction, such as spot lights and lamps that solely light downwards”.
- Instant on at full brightness, even at lower temperatures
- Do not contain Mercury
- Guaranteed for life
- Higher color rendition
- Do not emit UV light that may fade fabrics
- Much less susceptible to breaking
- Do not have a greatly reduced lifespan when turned off and on frequently
- More pleasing bulb appearance in fixtures”
by Brent Sauser
Urban Green Energy (UGE) announces the launch of their new SeamlessGrid hybrid inverter that integrates inputs from wind and solar in one device that allows for easy monitoring. SeamlessGrid is an integrated power control system, the first of its kind that combines wind and solar inputs. UGE states;
“For the site that requires higher energy security, lower costs, and greater sustainability, SeamlessGrid weaves together wind, solar, and the grid to provide a truly seamless installation.”
This is just one more example of the significant advancements in Net Zero technology. Never before has Net Zero construction been more practical and affordable.
For additional information regarding the UGE SeamlessGrid hybrid inverter please click on the following: