Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
Aggressive Strategies for a Changing Climate
Downey, CA— Buildings alone contribute almost 40% of total US carbon emissions, and Zero Net Energy buildings will play an aggressive role as we strive to mitigate the effects of climate change. California is leading the way with mandates that all new residential construction be net zero energy by 2020, and commercial construction to follow suit by 2030. The market is pivoting, and companies and designers are finding opportunity in these shifts. Gaining traction, Zero Net Water, and Zero Net Waste movements are taking hold across industries as well, as inefficient systems and industry waste are being more accurately seen risks and hidden costs, and value is extracted from streams previously identified as waste only.
Finding its roots in passive design, net zero is gaining strength in the design and building world, with market and moral incentives at its core. Miller Hull’s Bullitt Center provides a gold standard, going beyond net zero with their hyper-efficient building, and acts as a benchmark for future projects. The combination of composting toilets and waterless urinals, alongside a greywater system, allows the building to keep their wasted water to a minimum. Passive heating and cooling is employed to keep those energy sources at a minimum; high ceilings and efficient daylighting cuts down on the need for indoor lighting; and the solar PV array is able to offset all power, due in large part to the efficiency of the building’s systems. Miller Hull continues to pioneer new efficiencies, keeping an eye on passive design techniques – porches, dog trots, shutters, trees, etc. as they bring net zero to universities across the country.
Companies are targeting net zero in their supply chain as well. Mohawk Group, an international carpet company that has been in business over 150 years, has prioritized an ambitious “Zero Landfill Initiative,” in which zero process waste will go to landfill. Forty-four facilities are already meeting this goal. By first making the sites as efficient as possible, they minimize the amount of waste that needs to be accounted for; improvements to handling and waste recycling then accounts for the rest. This begins with a top down approach, but also relies heavily on employee engagement, and Mohawk has seen incredible success as they pursue this initiative.
Verdical Group’s 3rd Annual Net Zero Conference, hosted August 19th, 2016 at Southern California Gas’s Energy Resource Center, focused on these topics and more. There, a high level group of built environment professionals convened around the application of net zero design techniques and applied strategies, presented as case studies by industry experts and thought leaders.
Over 800 architects, engineers, designers, manufacturers, consultants, and various other professionals registered for the event, which opened with remarks from Verdical Group Founder & Principal Drew Shula. Shula introduced the Conference Sponsors, and reminded attendees about the role all Green Building professionals play in improving our environment.
Keynote Speaker Seth Maxwell, President and Founder of Thirst Project, kicked off the day by discussing the global water crisis, and the 663 million people who lack access to clean potable water. Globally, 88% of all disease is caused by lack of access to clean, safe water, and Thirst Project goes into the world’s most vulnerable communities, hires local drillers, and builds fresh-water wells to draw safe, protected water. Since 2008, Thirst Project has been raising awareness and funds to improve lives around the world, and involve America’s youth in the fight for global access to clean water.
The half-day conference included a variety of short TED-style presentations and panel discussions from nationally leading Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms, Manufacturers, Utilities and Rating Systems. Conference presentations covered the applications and scalability of net zero practices, including energy, water and waste. Presentation topics included: a manufacturer case study on achieving zero landfill; net positive Living Building Design at institutions of higher education; a current case study highlighting the successes of recovering energy from waste heat; bringing net zero water and net zero energy to scale; and a panel of thought leaders from Utilities and Rating Systems. The conference speakers, representing a diverse mix of thought leaders from a variety of industries emphasized the impacts of net zero design and implementation across industries and throughout the built environment as we work to build a future where all buildings perform at a net zero energy, water and waste standard.
The program concluded with a Q&A with all conference speakers followed by a networking reception.
For more information about the Conference, please visit: www.verdicalgroup.com/net-zero-2016.
About Verdical Group
Verdical Group is a full service green building consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Our services include: LEED, Commissioning, Energy Modeling, Program Management, and Events. The name “Verdical” is derived from the Latin root for “green” and plays on the word “vertical” – signifying the value created through green building strategies. With experience on more than 85+ LEED projects, the firm advises on sustainability strategies with our client’s bottom line in mind.