How exactly does one achieve NET ZERO?
- Step 1: Design a building that uses 60 percent to 70 percent to 80 percent less energy than a code compliant building.
- Step 2: Provide fossil free fuel energy for the remaining energy needs.
Simple, right? The playbook to get to net zero (carbon neutral building) is widely accepted and a proven, successful approach. But reducing energy consumption by 70 to 80 percent and maintaining comfort is not accomplished by simply tweaking the way we have always designed and built buildings.
A bit more efficiency in heating and cooling systems, or some more insulation does not get us there. A fully integrated, thoughtful and intentional design solution does.
Net Zero Energy is a Path
The path began with the establishment of a base line of energy use/efficiency standard set in 2003. The path from 2003 until 2030 is to incrementally reduce the energy use of buildings, shifting to the use of fossil free energy and having all new buildings be carbon neutral by 2030.
Energy Codes have improved about 40 percent since 1985, and within that the improvement has been about 36 percent since 2003. So codes have taken us about one-third of the way to our 2030 goal already.
Eventually (ideally by 2030) the code will require zero impact buildings, which in the case of energy use, will be net zero buildings that have zero carbon impact to the environment. Currently, we are still doing buildings that have less negative impact.
We need to transition from doing “less bad” and accelerate towards buildings that have a positive impact on the environment.
About the Author:
Owner, Carlson Studio Architecture
His firm, Carlson Studio, is recognized regionally for its commitment to award winning sustainable design. Michael is also currently on the Board of Directors for the USGBC Florida Chapter and has a long history in the USGBC. He is also a member of the Cascadia Green Building Council/ Living Future Institute, American Institute of Architects (AIA) and AIA Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and Chairman of the chapter’s Committee on the Environment (COTE). Green building remains at the heart of all his continuing education, and he was one of the first architects in Florida to achieve the LEED Accredited Professional designation (2003). He currently has 14 buildings that have been LEED certified.