Architecture at Zero 2017 Competition Now Open

Image from Architecture at Zero 2017 / www.architectureatzero.com

Image from Architecture at Zero 2017 / www.architectureatzero.com

For the last seven years, the Architecture at Zero competition has challenged entrants to design a zero net energy building at a new Northern California site each year. This year the challenge is to create a zero net energy bayside community education and visitor’s center, in support of the mission of the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC). This facility is San Francisco State University’s center for estuary and ocean science located on 53 acres of bayside property in Tiburon, California.

The competition, which is open to anyone and free for students, will distribute up to $25,000 in total prize money and is reviewed by a distinguished jury. For more information and to register, visit www.architectureatzero.com.

Since the first competition in 2011, Resource Refocus has coordinated the energy-related aspects of the competition, which include determining the technical requirements and providing a technical evaluation of the submissions for the jury.

Zero-Carbon Buildings in California

A study of the technical feasibility of zero-carbon buildings in California funded by the Air Resources Board is in progress. This study goes beyond the footprint of the operational energy of the building itself to consider transportation, water, and waste as well. After establishing the baseline carbon emissions associated with these aspects of buildings, the project team will conduct a wedge analysis to estimate the potential for carbon reductions associated with various efficiency and technology strategies. The end result will be recommendations to ARB on appropriate targets for zero-carbon building for both new construction and retrofit.

The project team is led by the Center for Resource Efficient Communities at UC Berkeley. Resource Refocus is responsible for the buildings portion of the investigation.

ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings 2016

Resource Refocus was very active at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, authoring or coauthoring 4 papers and giving 2 presentations:

Volume 2 of ZNE Case Study Buildings Now Available

The second volume of Zero Net Energy Case Study Buildings gives an in-depth look at 5 commercial ZNE buildings in Northern California. The case studies include 4 retrofit projects, 3 offices, a museum, and a library:

  • DPR Construction Office Building

  • IBEW-NECA JATC Training Facility

  • Speculative Office Building at 435 Indio Way

  • West Berkeley Branch Library

  • The Exploratorium Science Museum

For each building, this book provides a description of building features and design strategies, modeled and monitored energy performance data, and post occupancy lessons along with beautiful photographs and illustrations.

Both volumes are available for free download (Volume 1, Volume 2) and for purchase on Amazon (Volume 1, Volume 2).

Resource Refocus provided project management, technical review, and data visualization for this project.

PulteGroup Launches ZNE Protoype in California

Image from PulteGroup / newsroom.pultegroup.com

Image from PulteGroup / newsroom.pultegroup.com

PulteGroup, the third largest builder in the country, unveiled their zero net energy (ZNE) prototype in a ceremony on June 16, 2016. This ZNE prototype was developed as part of PG&E’s ZNE Production Builder Demonstration, which provides design consultation, construction visits, and a year of performance monitoring to select builders.

Pulte reduced the modeled energy consumption of the ZNE home by 55% compared to their standard practice. More than 70% of these savings came from reductions in heating energy, primarily caused by replacing their standard gas furnace with a high efficiency heat pump but also by increased sealing and moving ducts to the conditioned space. Switching from a tank water heater to a condensing tankless water heater also resulted in significant modeled savings.

To offset consumption and achieve ZNE, Pulte installed a 4.62 kW photovoltaic (PV) array. There are many definitions of ZNE, and the one chosen for this demonstration is the California code definition, which is based on valuing energy differently depending on when and where it is consumed or produced. This Time Dependent Valuation (TDV) metric values electricity consumed or produced during hot summer afternoons the most highly, which results in a smaller PV array being required to reach TDV zero than site zero.

Once the home is occupied, the energy consumption of the various end uses will be monitored for a year to determine whether the prototype is performing as designed and to diagnose necessary corrections. The same monitoring system can provide feedback to the occupants on their energy consumption through an online portal.

BIRAenergy provided design consulting, Davis Energy Group is conducting the performance monitoring, and Resource Refocus has provided general project oversight and data analysis on behalf of PG&E.

Video from PulteGroup News (posted June 7, 2016) - youtube.com

Additional articles:

 

Architecture at Zero 2016 Competition Now Open

Image from Architecture at Zero 2016 / www.architectureatzero.com

Image from Architecture at Zero 2016 / www.architectureatzero.com

For the last six years, the Architecture at Zero competition has challenged entrants to design a zero net energy building at a new  Northern California site each year. This year the challenge is to design a site plan and a mixed-use student housing building on the San Francisco State University campus.

The competition, which is open to anyone and free for students, will distribute up to $25,000 in total prize money and is reviewed by a distinguished jury. For more information and to register, visit www.architectureatzero.com.

Since the first competition in 2011, Resource Refocus has coordinated the energy-related aspects of the competition, which include determining the technical requirements and providing a technical evaluation of the submissions for the jury.

ZNE House at Energy Training Center

Video developed by Leviathan / www.lvthn.com

PG&E’s new Energy Training Center in Stockton contains a house that is designed to be Zero Net Energy (ZNE). As visitors walk through the house, they can use an iPad to explore the energy efficiency and other sustainability features related to the room that they are  in. An interactive display shows how much energy the house is modeled to use. Visitors can see a  breakdown of  the different end uses as well as patterns over time. These results are also compared to those of a code minimum home from 2005 to show the magnitude of the improvement and which end uses are responsible for the difference.

Dr. Carrie Brown of Resource Refocus conducted the energy analysis for the project, providing the energy models behind the interactive dashboard. She also contributed to the choice of energy efficiency features and provided content to help highlight these features in different areas of the house..

Leviathan, which designed the interactive digital displays, released a video on June 1, 2016, that demonstrates some of the features, including the interactive dashboard.

New Team Member - Margaret Pigman

Resource Refocus is pleased to announce that Margaret Pigman has joined our consulting team as an Associate Technical Consultant focusing on data visualization, building science, and zero net energy.

Previously, she was a Graduate Student Researcher at the Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley. Her research focused on occupant behavior and thermal comfort in naturally ventilated, mixed mode, and air conditioned office buildings. She enjoys creating visualizations that allow people to explore and learn from data. Margaret earned a Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in Building Science from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Physics from Williams College.

 

Presentation of PG&E Zero Net Energy Residential Project Consultations

On behalf of PG&E, Resource Refocus coordinated a presentation of the results of zero net energy (ZNE) residential project consultations on March 27, 2014, in Berkeley, CA.

The projects were presented by the technical consultant teams engaged by PG&E to assist project teams in designing and/or monitoring their ZNE projects. In addition, a residential program manager highlighted upcoming changes to residential PG&E incentive programs, and the CPUC provided an overview of the larger statewide ZNE residential issues and goals. 

The presentations and case study handouts from the event are available here.

New Team Member - Dr. Carrie Brown

Resource Refocus is delighted to announce that Dr. Carrie Brown has joined our consulting team as a Senior Technical Consultant focusing on building science and zero net energy.

Carrie, previously Associate Technical Director in building science at TRC (formerly HMG), brings a strong background in energy modeling and energy policy with a focus on zero net energy issues. She had a core role in the "Road to ZNE" study completed by HMG in December 2012. Carrie has also been the lead building science consultant for Retroficiency, where she helped develop their proprietary software for benchmarking and interval analysis.

Carrie has a Ph.D. from MIT in Building Technology and a M.S.Arch. in Building Science from the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley.

ZNE Buildings, DG, and the Electricity System

Resource Refocus LLC worked with the PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Program and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to coordinate the forum "Zero Net Energy Buildings, Distributed Generation and the Electricity System: New Types of Relationships." The event was held at the Brower Center in Berkeley, CA, on March 6, 2012.

At the event, RMI presented key findings from a study conducted for PG&E. The event also included a moderated panel of key stakeholders, including:

  • Christine Page - Director of Climate and Energy Strategy, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Kenneth Munson - President and CEO, Sunverge Energy, Inc.
  • Stephen Frantz - Program Planner, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
  • Victor Olgyay - Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Nolan Zail - Senior Vice President of Development, Carmel Partners
  • David Rubin - Director of Service Analysis, PG&E

The final RMI report, "Net Energy Metering, Zero Net Energy and The Distributed Energy Resource Future: Adapting for the 21st Century," can be downloaded from the RMI website here. You can also read an RMI blog post about issues raised in the report here.