California Moves on Zero Net Energy

October 29, 2007
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David Kaneda, the owner of Integrated Design Associates (IDeAs), shows Jeff Crenshaw and John Coleman from Johnson Controls the photovoltaic solar installation atop the IDeAs facility. The solar panels are integral to the single-ply membrane roof, qualifying as a zero net energy building. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)


California is moving to the forefront in mandating lower energy costs with the recent proposal for zero net energy standards. A state public utilities commissioner and administrative law judge recently issued a proposal for energy-efficiency measures for new residential construction projects beginning in 2020 and commercial construction beginning in 2030. Zero net energy means buildings use no more energy over the course of a year than they produce through solar power or other energy production technologies.

California’s highest energy priority is to pursue cost-effective energy efficiency measures over both the short and long-term. To meet this goal, the proposal:

• Directs the utilities to prepare a single, comprehensive statewide long-term energy efficiency plan;

• Adopts three programmatic initiatives:

All new residential construction in California will be net-zero energy by 2020, all new commercial construction in California will be net-zero energy by 2030, and the HVAC industry will be reshaped to ensure optimal equipment performance;

• Develops the next generation of California utility energy-efficiency programs for 2009-2011.

• Commits in the near-term, to adopting energy-efficiency goals through 2020 and reaffirms previously adopted 2009-2011 goals.

• Establishes new collaborative processes with key business, consumer groups, and governmental organizations in California, the West, nationally, and internationally.

“This decision creates a framework for sustainable energy efficiency and other demand-reducing programs and a process for accomplishing extensive energy savings through long-term strategic planning,” said Commissioner Dian Grueneich of the California Public Utilities Commission. “To do this well requires an approach that transcends regulatory, programmatic, and jurisdictional constraints, and emphasizes a broader view of the energy-efficiency landscape.”

The proposal would direct utilities to prepare a single, statewide, long-term energy-efficiency plan. It also seeks to reshape the HVAC industry by requiring an undefined minimum number of high-efficiency air conditioning systems to be installed or retrofitted on residential and small commercial buildings.

“Basically, the full spectrum of air conditioning equipment sales, installation, and service business practices must change,” wrote Grueneich and administrative law judge Kim Malcolm in the proposed decision.

The solar panels on the roof of the IDeAs’ facility – building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) – are employed due to their compactness and efficiency. With this system a support structure is unnecessary and each panel serves as both a photovoltaic power source and a roof membrane.

MANUFACTURERS REACT

Several manufacturers, contacted by The NEWS, gave their opinion of net zero energy standards. “As an innovation leader, Lennox International is continually tracking future market trends and is interested to learn more about the proposed California initiatives,” said Kyle Gilley, vice president, Lennox International government affairs.

“We are willing to work with Commissioner Grueneich in developing the right path to meet the needs of consumers and our dealers, distributors and service centers.”

“The proposal by Commissioner Grueneich is further validation of Broan-NuTone’s position that the home is a system rather than a group of individual functions,” said Tom Heidel, marketing manager, Broan-NuTone LLC.

“Broan-NuTone has led the ventilation industry in the development and deployment of new technologies to provide maximum energy efficiency while still providing superior ventilation. The Broan SmartSense system credits intermittent usage of ventilation fans in the home to the whole-building ventilation recommendations by ASHRAE, requirements by green building programs, and states such as California in 2008. “Broan-NuTone will continue to lead the ventilation industry in new technology, superior ventilation and maximum energy efficiency for any application. We welcome initiatives such as the California proposal.”

Robert Wilkins, president of Danfoss, said, “The California Net-Zero Energy Proposal is ambitious and innovative, and attempts to build on prior energy successes. The proposal clearly recognizes the seriousness of the energy issue and the need to protect both the environment and the economy long term.

“While the proposal may be overly aggressive in some areas, I believe these issues can be negotiated and resolved, assuming the Public Utilities Commission provides for reasonable and ample scientific, industry and public debate.

“Danfoss is well-aligned to support this bold challenge. For many decades, we have earned a solid reputation as a ‘cleantech’ company, providing energy-efficient products and solutions to the HVACR industry.”

For more information, download a copy of Commissioner Grueneich’s decision at www.cpuc.ca.gov.

Sidebar: Delivering Net-Zero Energy

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Johnson Controls recently completed the design and installation of a unique heat pump-based HVAC system and controls for the new headquarters of Integrated Design Associates (IDeAs). This innovative solution will allow the facility to operate on a net-zero energy use basis and also contribute to its net-zero carbon emissions. The building, a refurbished bank branch, is designed to generate as much electricity as it uses.

The efficient heat-pump system circulates either warm or cool water through the concrete floor slab to create radiant heating or cooling, depending on the season. Additionally, solar panels on the roof run all systems and equipment in the building.

“The heat pump system, which has been operational since mid-August, has provided a very cool and comfortable environment during some very hot weather,” said David Kaneda, principal, IDeAs. “This energy-efficient system will help us meet our net-zero energy goals.”

To further reduce electricity usage, the facility uses skylights in conjunction with energy efficient lighting systems, complemented by high-efficiency windows. On a sunny California day, sensors will switch off most of the facility’s lighting to decrease energy consumption.

“We are very excited to have contributed to one of the first net-zero energy commercial buildings,” said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability for Johnson Controls. “This project is a shining example of what is possible when using the solutions and technologies of today to create facilities that truly set the standard for energy efficiency.”

Kaneda’s firm helps architects design more energy-efficient buildings. As a result, he felt that his firm should walk-the-walk with its new facility. “All the technologies we use are readily available today,” said Kaneda. “While some of the technology is more expensive up-front, the significant reduction in energy consumption will pay for these innovations in the long term. At the end of the day, reducing our impact on the environment is the right thing to do.”

To learn more about this facility, visit www.z2 building.com. For more information about IDeAs, go to www.ideasi.com.

Publication date: 10/29/2007

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