Industry News

Net Zero Breaks New Ground with First Retrofit


Forbes, a leading business and finance news outlet, is exploring high-efficiency building. In a June 5 article, “Building The Capacity to Increase Net Zero Construction,” energy contributor Peter Kelly-Detwiler takes a deep dive into the growing phenomenon of net zero buildings.August 13_Net Zero Image 2

While the concept – buildings that produce as much or more energy than they consume – is well-known, net zero is often associated solely with new constructions. But as Kelly-Detwiler points out, “since less than one percent of the U.S. building stock gets added each year, the focus on rehabs is critical if the net zero movement is to gain any significant traction in the U.S.”

The article chronicles the development of the first retrofit to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as meeting the requirements for net zero. Not only does the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Center, San Leandro, Calif., pave the way for other energy-efficient rehabs, it is a space designed as a “learning hub for trainees in net zero and sustainable energy programs.”

August 13_Net Zero Image 1The designers of the ZNE Center (pictured left) tackled the net zero design process with a two-pronged approach. First, they focused on consumption, addressing energy efficiency with products and practices that would reduce energy use. Second, a renewable power was added to achieve a “grid neutral,” or zero net energy status.

Effective space conditioning is a critical part of reducing energy consumption and an area that Kelly-Detwiler addresses throughout the article. The ZNE Center uses VRF zoning systems, which are “smart enough to take heat from an overheated room and move it to where it is needed.”

To learn more about the net zero design process and the integration of energy-efficient HVAC solutions, read the full Forbes article here.