- Proper Orientation
A climate-responsive, properly oriented building is the easiest way to cut down the demand for energy. The orientation is also crucial to reduce the heating and cooling costs.
Planning a proper orientation of your building is the first step of getting a net zero certificate. It's a designing approach based on clever decision-making and offers considerable energy savings. Additionally, it's always convenient and cheaper to utilize nature than going for costly technologies or construction methods.
For example, buildings in warmer parts of the USA can benefit from having its long sides face north-south. This reduces direct sunlight and keeps cooling costs down during summer. Consequently, the structure gains solar heat during winter, reducing demand for indoor heating. On an average, a solar passive design can get you 75% of your heating needs directly from the sun.
We also place your doors and windows optimally to take advantage of breezes, making for a well-ventilated space.
- Responsive Envelope
A proper envelope forms an effective barrier between the inside and outside of your building. The envelop consists of floor, walls, roof, doors and windows of your building. We always go for high-performance insulation so that your home can conserve as much energy as possible.
Our team uses various methods to implement optimum insulation such as insulated concrete forms (ICFs), insulated metal panels (IMPs), spray foam insulation and more. The goal is to create a continuous insulation for an airtight and moisture resistant home. We also use super-insulated roofing and floor to achieve a high R-value.
The doors and windows are also chosen with careful consideration. Various technologies such as double or triple-paned glass can be used with improved insulating properties. We also try to use windows with a high Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and low-e films to reduce heat gain. Proper placement of doors and windows is also another important aspect along with the utilization of adequate shades.
- Renewable Energy
In order to get net zero certificate, your building must produce equal to or more energy than it consumes over a year through renewable means. That means you have to go for a renewable energy installation in your building which will produce the required energy.
You have the option of choosing from a range of renewable solutions like solar energy, wind energy, water energy or even biomass. We will take several factors into account to choose the most effective form of renewable energy for your building. Some of the factors include resources available at the building location, cost and orientation of the site.
The most common technology across US homes is solar panels photovoltaic installations. You can also go for a combination of energy sources like wind and solar if you are located, say near the coast. We may also design energy systems with storage batteries to achieve your zero-energy target.
- Optimized Lighting
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), US residences and offices use 20% to 50% of the total electricity consumption for lighting. It's imperative that we optimize lighting to reduce your energy demand and conserve electricity.
Our net zero designs make the most of sunlight in creating natural living spaces. We can make way for natural lighting by using extensive glass panels which also enhance the looks of your building. Natural light can also be optimized by properly placing windows based on the orientation of the building.
Energy efficient lighting like light-emitting diode or LEDs also go a long way to reduce energy consumption. In fact, LEDs are 30% more energy efficient than fluorescent bulbs.
We can also use smart controls like on/off motion sensors which further reduce energy consumption by automatically switching off lights when there's no one in the room.
- Heating and Cooling
40% of the total energy in a commercial building is consumed by HVAC. Energy-efficient HVAC systems are crucial for net zero buildings as they are the main energy consumers. We can use smart HVAC solutions with remote monitoring which gives you complete control over your energy consumption.
Based on your case, we may also design your building with air-source and ground-source heat pumps. Air-source heat pumps use the heat outside your building and transfer it inside for heating. The same principle can also be used to transfer heat outside the building during summer to keep cooling costs down.
For applications like water heating, we can employ thermal solar heating systems for commercial buildings. Small and residential buildings can benefit from an electric heat pump or even a well-insulated regular water heater.
A net zero home is well-insulated and airtight. Studies also show that indoor air quality can be worse than outside air due to the presence of allergens, dust, mold and other contaminants. All net zero buildings we design have thought-out ventilation and additional systems to ensure the wellbeing and health of the occupants.
- Monitoring Technology
You cannot create a net zero building without the participation of the occupants. Even if you install the most energy-efficient systems and superior insulation, all can go to waste if someone forgets to switch off the lights or runs the AC with windows open.
That's why we incorporate user-friendly monitoring systems as a standard procedure. You can access information about your systems using the internet even from remote locations and control lighting, heating, cooling with the help of mobile or web-based applications.
We can also install sensors and automated controlling which can adjust lighting, cooling or heating based on real-time conditions. For example, when the sensors determine a room is empty or has fewer occupants, it can automatically cut back the heating or cooling resources dedicated to that space resulting in energy conservation.
- High Efficiency Appliances
The last aspect of going net zero is choosing the right appliances. We always look to reduce consumption by using high-efficiency appliances with Energy Star ratings. Whether it's your refrigerators, dryers or dishwashers, we adopt a conservation approach and choose appliances with low energy requirement and carbon footprint.