How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate

July 8, 2020 by  
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As with any brilliant innovation, net-zero energy communities were an … The post How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate

Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

May 5, 2020 by  
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Chapel Hill-based firm Arielle Condoret Schechter is known for its commitment to building sustainable homes that don’t sacrifice elegance or comfort. The company’s latest work includes the spacious Haw River House, which was built with several efficient features to create a net-zero energy home that is seamlessly linked with its natural surroundings. Tucked into a pristine woodland overlooking the Haw River, which runs through central North Carolina, the beautiful Haw River House sits in harmony with the landscape. Using this natural setting as inspiration, the 2,600-square-foot house is outfitted with several energy-efficient features that make it completely energy-neutral. Related: Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape According to the architects, the thick forest of towering deciduous and evergreen trees that soar out of the rocky landscape inspired the unique volume of the home . To mimic the dreamy, natural silhouettes, the home has a butterfly roof and various outdoor spaces. First, a cantilevered screen porch that nearly stretches the length of the home allows the family to enjoy a seamless connection to the outdoors. There is another deck off of the main volume and a private outdoor deck cantilevered off of the master bedroom. To achieve its net-zero energy status, the home includes many sustainable features, such as a 13 KW solar panel system and a geothermal heating and cooling system. To maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, Haw River House has an air-tight envelope and triple-glazed windows and doors, including a 20-foot-wide sliding glass door that looks out over the beautiful river rapids. The abundance of glazing provides the entire living space with optimal natural light, air circulation and, of course, views. Despite all of that glass, the extended roof overhangs shelter the interiors from harsh sunlight. Additionally, the roof has an integral water collection system . The strategically designed gutter system leads to downspouts on each end of the home, funneling all rainwater into two 5,000-gallon above-ground cisterns. The water is then processed into clean drinking water via a triple-filtering system that includes a state-of-the-art UV method that kills 99.9% of bacteria. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Photography by Tzu Chen via Arielle Condoret Schechter

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Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

April 29, 2020 by  
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Koto Design has teamed up with Plant Prefab to create two new incredible net-zero energy homes. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 are modular homes that incorporate sustainable living systems of the future. Under the ethos of creating great architecture that is more sustainable, the dwellings are powerhouses of energy-efficiency, with passive elements to reduce energy demand and active systems that allow homeowners to reduce electricity consumption through an app. Ranging in cost from $419,000 to $830,400, the new homes are available in two modular models, Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2. Both homes are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic. With clean lines and solid materials, they are built to have strong connections with the natural world through a variety of passive and active features that also keep energy needs to a minimum. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island The larger of the two homes, nicknamed Piha (Finnish for “courtyard”), spans 2,184 square feet and features a spacious courtyard that melds the interior and exterior. The second home, dubbed Yksi (Finnish for “first”), is a smaller, two-bedroom residence. Designed to be ultra-resilient to various climates, the homes can be built in virtually any landscape, from frigid mountainous regions to warm beachfront properties. Both designs count on using an abundance of natural light and air ventilation to keep the interior spaces cool and cozy without the need for artificial systems. Although most prefab homes already feature a relatively small carbon footprint, the Koto homes meet net-zero energy targets and are built with eco-friendly materials, such as recycled insulation. The designs also incorporate efficient heating and cooling systems, low-flow water fixtures and LED lighting. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 have monitoring systems accessible via smartphone to ensure all systems are operating at maximum efficiency. + Koto Design + Plant Prefab Images via Koto Design

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New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

April 29, 2020 by  
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Europe just gained its second and third coal-free countries. Sweden and Austria have both shut their last coal-fired plants in late April, joining Belgium in going coal-free in favor of renewable energy sources. “With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine . “Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.” Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 Sweden had originally planned on going coal-free in 2022, but it was able to achieve this goal two years early. A mild Swedish winter meant that energy utility Stockholm Exergi’s last coal-fired plant, located in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, didn’t need to be used this year. The plant opened in 1989. In addition to environmental awareness that decreased the popularity of coal, market forces have driven the operational costs up. Statistics from the U.K.-based think-tank Carbon Tracker show that 40% of EU coal plants ran at a loss in 2017. In 2019, it cost almost 100% more to run a coal plant than to rely on renewable options. More European countries plan to join the coal-free future: France is aiming to be coal-free by 2022; Slovakia and Portugal by 2023; the U.K. by 2024; and Ireland and Italy by 2025. Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud told PV Magazine he hopes the utility will eventually go carbon-negative. “Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels , therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” Egelrud said, according to TheMayor.eu . “Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy.” Image via Steve Buissinne

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Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

Modern farmhouse targets net-zero energy in Vermont

April 27, 2020 by  
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On a hillside meadow in rural Vermont, local architecture firm Birdseye has completed Bank Barn, a new residence that, from afar, might look like any another agricultural building. But it is actually a modern farmhouse strategically engineered to meet future net-zero energy targets. The architects drew inspiration from the regional farm structures built into the banks of hills to create the gabled dwelling, which is clad in weathered cedar and topped with a durable metal roof. An intensive energy consultation and modeling informed all parts of the design. The resulting project features an electricity-based energy system that is expected to achieve net-zero energy operations, pending a future 18 kW solar array. Set into a steep slope, the 4,566-square-foot Bank Barn comprises three levels with the lowest floor — containing the garage, pool room and support spaces — below grade and flanked by two 160-foot linear concrete retaining walls. The long walls support an extended plinth for the floor above that houses an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room with access to the rear outdoor deck as well as a spacious office that looks out over a green roof atop the garage. A central, freestanding steel staircase leads up to the three en suite bedrooms located on the upper floor. Related: Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass surround the home, filling the interior with natural light and uninterrupted views of the outdoors. To keep the focus on the landscape, the architects used a subdued palette of exposed steel, plaster, concrete and wood for the minimalist and modern interiors. “Early in the design process, the house was modeled to assess the design in terms of energy efficiency , thermal comfort and visual comfort,” the architects explained. As a result, the home boasts an airtight envelope with thermally separated r-40 walls, an r-60 roof, closed-cell polyurethane foam cavities and triple-glazing throughout. The house draws power from geothermal heating and cooling through water-to-water and water-to-air systems as well as heat recovery ventilators. + Birdseye Photography by Jim Westphalen Photography via Birdseye

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Modern farmhouse targets net-zero energy in Vermont

LEED Platinum Sonoma Academy building takes cues from Californias landscape

April 14, 2020 by  
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Private college-prep high school Sonoma Academy has elevated its reputation for sustainability with its newly achieved LEED Platinum certification for the Janet Durgin Guild & Commons building, an award-winning student and education center that champions a net-zero energy approach. Designed by architectural firm WRNS Studio and built by Silicon Valley-based XL Construction, the low-carbon building is a powerhouse of sustainable systems including solar panels , a living roof and stormwater management. Crafted as an “extension of its surroundings,” the building takes cues from the Californian landscape with its natural material palette of timber either reclaimed or FSC-certified and sourced from responsibly managed forests. Located in Santa Rosa, California, Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild and Commons houses a hybrid maker space, an indoor/outdoor student dining area with an all-electric commercial kitchen, student support services and a teaching kitchen/meeting room overlooking the school’s productive gardens and the maker classroom patio. Designed to follow the school’s principles of creativity, inclusivity and innovation, the 19,500-square-foot, Y-shaped facility emphasizes health and well-being by providing constant connections to nature, daylighting and natural ventilation throughout. A low-VOC materials palette provided the foundation for the project, which is built primarily of steel, glass and timber.  Related: This high school in California embodies sustainability at every possible level Special attention was also given to water conservation and management systems, which have been designed to double as teaching tools. Stormwater runoff is captured on the green roof and in terraced rain gardens, then funneled into a 5,000-gallon cistern. This system provides water for toilet-flushing to offset approximately 180,000 gallons of municipal water use per year, accounting for 88% of the building’s total non-potable water demand. Using a net-zero energy approach that employs low- and high-tech strategies, the architects have designed the building to be 80% naturally lit and to decrease the high-energy-component demand by at least 75%. Rooftop solar arrays and geo-exchange ground source heat pumps power the building with renewable energy, while passive systems — such as deep overhangs and operable windows with high-performance, low-E glazing — keep the building naturally cool. The Janet Durgin Guild & Commons is also targeting WELL Education Pilot and LBC Material and Energy Petals certifications. + WRNS Studio Images via WRNS Studio

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LEED Platinum Sonoma Academy building takes cues from Californias landscape

Mapping out Charlotte’s lead on green tariffs

March 5, 2020 by  
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Duke Energy worked with the North Carolina city on its path toward achieving net zero emissions and improving social equity.

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Mapping out Charlotte’s lead on green tariffs

Net-zero Del Mar Civic Center celebrates community and the great outdoors

January 30, 2020 by  
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After decades of planning, the Californian seaside city Del Mar has finally welcomed a new civic center to consolidate all of its primary public functions into one location at the heart of the community. Located on a 1.5-acre site with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the Del Mar Civic Center is the work of West Coast-based The Miller Hull Partnership , who took inspiration for the design from the surroundings. The new civic center is also engineered for net-zero energy operations and is outfitted with a rooftop solar array, a rainwater harvesting system and programmable windows that take advantage of passive ventilation. Set adjacent to Camino Del Mar, the town’s main thoroughfare, the Del Mar Civic Center comprises a 3,000-square-foot Town Hall, a 9,000-square-foot City Hall, a 13,000-square-foot Town Commons and parking for 140 vehicles, most of which is tucked beneath the complex. All of the buildings were constructed with warm, natural materials such as wood and integrally colored concrete; durable ipe wood siding clads much of the exterior. The architects have likened the civic center to a set of family beachside cabins translated into a series of interconnected structures that follow the contours of the site to maintain a low-slung residential profile. Related: Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore The architects preserved 40% of the site as open space for gardens showcasing native and drought-tolerant plants, active and passive courtyards and a dedicated area for the community farmers market. Further emphasizing the complex’s connection to the outdoors is the abundance of windows, which frame views of the Pacific Ocean in almost every room and promote natural ventilation. Additional sustainable features include the complex’s partial earth sheltering for temperature regulation, porous paving, EV charging stations, daylight sensors and stormwater swales. “City Halls have evolved into being much more than places representing civic gravitas,” noted Mike Jobes, design principal for the project. “They are a public investment in the infrastructure for the social aspects of community , where civic identity is formed through the ritual of public gatherings that are made possible by these spaces.” + The Miller Hull Partnership Photography by Chipper Hatter via The Miller Hull Partnership

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Net-zero Del Mar Civic Center celebrates community and the great outdoors

New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels

January 29, 2020 by  
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To advance a Climate Action Plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, Boston University has recently broken ground on the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, a 19-floor complex expected to become the “University’s and Boston’s biggest and most sustainable, energy-efficient building” once built. Toronto-based firm KPMB Architects led the design of the 345,000-square-foot project, which will house BU’s mathematics, statistics and computer science departments under one roof. The tower, which will be the tallest building on campus , will feature a suite of energy-saving and energy-generating technologies, including geothermal wells, state-of-the-art shading systems and triple-glazed windows. Located at the heart of the campus, the Center for Computing & Data Sciences will be the university’s first major teaching center in half a century and is slated for completion in 2022. Key to the design of the tower is the “vertical campus” concept that encourages a sense of community over 19 floors. In addition to maximizing transparency and accessibility, the architects have strategically configured the building to house the most-trafficked areas — such as the classrooms, learning labs and functional spaces — on the lower levels, while the upper floors contain the university departments. The rooftop hosts quiet lunch and meeting spaces optimized for concentration. Collaborative spaces will be woven throughout, including expansive whiteboard walls and a series of terraced platforms for small-group interactions. Related: The new Center for Student Services is a sustainable gateway for Boston University “The new Center for Computing & Data Sciences building makes a dynamic urban place that is a crossroads and a beacon for Boston University’s central campus,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The design maximizes opportunities for mixing, interaction and interconnectivity. The building serves as a platform for innovation formatted as a vertical campus. Every element is integrated to establish Data Sciences as Boston University’s new iconic heart.” To meet net-zero energy standards, the Center will depend on a ground-source heat exchange system with 31 1,500-foot-deep geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Energy loss will be minimized with external sun shading devices, triple-glazed windows, enhanced heating and ventilation systems and LED lighting . The tower will also be built 5 feet above the city for Boston’s suggested level for sea level rise. + KPMB Architects Images via KPMB Architects

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New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels

The innovative design of one of the world’s largest net-zero buildings

January 9, 2020 by  
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A peek inside the ‘Unisphere.’

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The innovative design of one of the world’s largest net-zero buildings

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