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Zero Net Energy Buildings - Part 2


for Members

Zero Net Energy Buildings - Part 2

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By


This meeting is the second of a four-part series focused on achieving zero net energy in buildings. Renewable energy technologies, global best practices, and how to retrofit existing buildings are just a few of the topics to be covered this year. At this meeting we will examine the process of designing and constructing a building to be zero net energy.

Exercising its unique position as a neutral third party, the Academy formed a collective – including architects, engineers, scientists, policy makers from city and state, foundation and non-profit leaders – representing the key players in New York in the area of green buildings and sustainable design. This newly formed group addresses a unique niche for which the Academy can leverage its scientific strength to deliver significant value to the green buildings discourse.


Designing Net Zero Energy Buildings
Roger Frechette (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP)

Massachusetts Maritime Academy Cadet Housing, Oberlin College Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, and Tin Mountain Conservation Center – Three Studies in Net-Zero Electricity and Near Net-Zero Energy Building
Luke McKneally (Solar Design Associates, Inc.)

The 31 Tannery Project – A Commercial "Net Zero Electric" Building
Edward H. Brzezowski (Noveda Technologies)

Panel Discussion
Moderator: Chris Garvin (Cook & Fox Architects)


Designing Net Zero Energy Buildings
Roger Frechette, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Roger Frechette will share ideas and strategies for designing net zero energy buildings including the "four-step" approach used by SOM's Performative Design Group. This approach seeks both passive and active design solutions through Reduction, Reclamation, Absorption, and Generation. Mr. Frechette will also discuss the case studies of the Digital Media City (DMC) Landmark Tower in Seoul, Korea and the Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China.

Developed using principles of performance-driven sustainable and regenerative design, the DMC Landmark Tower will become one of the most significant sustainable structures on the planet. The marriage of ecologically sound strategies and newly developed technology will make this architecturally significant, fully-integrated building capable of achieving a new benchmark in sustainable thinking.

The 71-story Pearl River Tower epitomizes the supertall building of tomorrow: a high-performance structure designed in such harmony with its environment that it extracts energy from the natural and passive forces surrounding the building. Connected to the nearby Zhujiang River by a vast new park, the iconic structure marks a major milestone along the path to energy independence.
The case studies of the DMC Landmark Tower and Pearl River Tower testify to our collective capacity to achieve significant formal and technological breakthroughs in performative design. Focusing on the careful integration of architectural and engineering ideas, these case studies include an analysis of the concepts that contributed to key design decisions.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy Cadet Housing, Oberlin College Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, and Tin Mountain Conservation Center – Three Studies in Net-Zero Electricity and Near Net-Zero Energy Buildings
Luke McKneally, Solar Design Associates

The environmental impact of our current building practices is straining our climate and our planet, resulting in noticeable and in some cases irreversible damage of increasing scale. In response to this, sustainable design is rapidly becoming an integral part of mainstream architectural practice. As designers focus their talents on lessening the carbon footprint of their buildings, renewable energy, in tandem with energy efficiency, is playing an increasingly important role in "green" design. The American Institute of Architects has embraced "Architecture 2030," calling for all new and renovated buildings to meet an immediate reduction of 50% in fossil fuel use, ramping down to completely carbon-neutral buildings with no fossil energy use by 2030. As design innovation and technology advances, zero-net energy carbon-neutral buildings powered by renewables are now coming within reach.

One of the most promising renewable energy technologies is photovoltaics. Photovoltaics (PV) is a truly elegant means of producing electricity on site, directly from the sun, without concern for fuel supply or environmental harm. Wind and solar thermal technologies are also becoming increasingly attractive options. These distributed renewable energy systems produce energy at the point of use, displacing utility power at the retail rate while offering many other advantages. Interest in building-integrated PV (BIPV), where the solar elements become an integral part of the building is also growing world-wide. Innovative designers are now beginning to explore creative ways of incorporating solar electricity and solar thermal energy into their designs from the outset. Luke will share three of Solar Design Associates' projects that have successfully achieved Net-Zero Electricity and near Net Zero Energy. These projects and more can be seen at

The 31 Tannery Project – A Commercial "Net Zero Electric" Building
Edward H. Brzezowski, Noveda Technologies

There are 4.8 million commercial buildings in the United States. It has been estimated that their annual energy costs is approximately $108 billion and that they contribute 17% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Over the next 25 years, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings leading the way, at a projected 1.8 percent a year through 2030. 31 Tannery is located in Branchburg, New Jersey, which serves as the corporate office and main headquarters of Ferreira Construction, Ferreira Group and also as an incubator for Noveda Technologies™, a real-time energy monitoring company that provides end users with a clear concise snapshot of their facility's energy usage and avoided cost and consumption. The "31 Tannery Project" is the first fully documented commercial building in the United States to produce all of its own electricity through a renewable power source on an annual basis. The surplus solar power is now being used to charge plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in Ferreira's fleet, a modified Toyota Prius at $0.04 per mile, with a reduction in its carbon footprint of 26%. On July 12, 2008 for the second year in a row, the building produced more electricity than was consumed on an annual basis and maintained an Energy Star Buildings rating score of 100. The project continues to evolve and serves as a "living lab" and a "hands on" showcase of energy efficiency (EE), renewable energy (RE), and monitoring and visualization systems (MV). Any abnormalities in equipment operation were instantly seen from Noveda Technologies™ real-time monitoring software, allowing us to react quickly and remedy irregularities before they could detrimentally affect our overall energy consumption profile. We would not have been able to score another 100 energy performance rating if we waited for the monthly utility bill to arrive 30-45 days after the energy was consumed. On February 13, 2007 Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey signed Executive Order 54 that calls for an aggressive reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The 31 Tannery Project met and exceeded the 2050 level in 2007, and continues to maintain this reduction as shown online at