Approaches

Our Push for Net Zero Energy Operations

A net zero energy (NZE) building means that the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site. The number of buildings currently pursuing net zero energy certifications is rapidly growing—the New Buildings Institute (NBI) has seen a 50 percent increase across the country and a 131 percent increase in the last four years in some markets.

“Exploring how we can leverage renewable energy sources on a more accessible level to address rising energy costs and establish the business case for net zero energy operations is critical for our environment.”

International Living Future Institute (ILFI) offers several third-party certification paths to judge a building or community’s design for the future that exceeds existing industry standards. The IFLI Zero Energy certification is achieved by producing at least as much energy as the building consumes, proven through 12 months of building performance data. As of December 2018, there are only 22 buildings in the U.S. that have earned this challenging certification; 21 buildings earned net zero energy under ILFI’s previous version. In late 2018, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also released a LEED Zero certification to complement its existing LEED sustainable building certifications.

There is a growing trend in local municipalities committing to net zero operations across the country. In Co|Lab’s own backyard, Washington, D.C. recently mandated commercial and residential buildings to be completely net zero by 2050. This is a stepping stone to reach net positive operations, minimizing carbon emissions caused by the built environment. Recent climate reports have drawn global attention to the building industry. Exploring how we can leverage renewable energy sources on a more accessible level to address rising energy costs and establish the business case for net zero energy operations is critical for our environment.

A primary goal for Co|Lab is to achieve net zero operations. Throughout the design phase, we explored various sources of renewable energy within the project constraints. Our MEP approach utilizes a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) HVAC system and a water-based radiant heat floor system. Through these energy-efficient consumption strategies, offset by the solar power generated on-site, Co|Lab should be able to achieve net-zero energy certification. Co|Lab’s energy model projects an energy production of 105 percent of the building’s anticipated consumption. The building’s energy performance will be tracked on a reporting platform by installing submeters to closely monitor fluctuations and trends, as well as pinpoint the exact location within the building and the project source. Once the Co|Lab is operational, visit our dashboard display to view key metrics of the building’s energy performance.

Isaiah Walston, Sustainable Construction Manager, HITT Contracting

Dan Blum, Project Manager, HITT Contracting

Jack Craig, Assistant Project Manager, HITT Contracting