Today the world is gradually becoming aware of issues related to the degradation of the atmosphere as a whole. In fact phrases like “carbon emission and footprint”, global warming, ozone layer depletion etc., are no longer just phrases. They have attained a meaning which clearly says that not paying attention to environmental issues will ultimately lead to the distinction of the human race. Man’s instinct for survival is very strong and hence today people are looking for ways in which to do their bit towards saving the environment.
What is zero net energy
One such concept which has gained momentum in the past few years is zero net energy. This concept which finds extensive use especially in commercial construction is a very interesting one. Herein commercial buildings are constructed in a way that its total energy consumed is offset annually by the amount of renewable energy that the building produces. This results in the neutralisation of the energy consumption thereby leading to a situation wherein the energy consumed and produced attain an equilibrium thereby resulting in zero net energy.
Technique of zero net energy construction
When a building is commercially made, there are two steps in which the construction is done to achieve zero net energy status for it. These phases when effected to follow one another, helps ensure the success of the concept of zero net energy. This is especially true for commercial buildings since their energy requirement and usage is quite high.
- First phase: This stage deals with incorporating the usage of materials which result in the energy efficiency of a building. Systems and appliances which come integrated along with the commercial flats or offices, are designed in a way that they effectively reduce the building’s carbon footprint.
- Second phase: This phase deals with the onsite generation of renewable energy from either the sun, wind, water or a combination of these sources of renewable energy. Herein care is taken to ensure that the amount of renewable energy produced is enough to offset the energy levels consumed by the building.
Advantages of zero net energy construction
This concept of zero net energy construction has many benefits associated with it which justifies the building of the same. These benefits pertain to:
- Price protection: Herein the energy to be consumed is generated by the building using natural sources of renewable energy. Thus in the long run, people using this building will be isolated or protected from having to bear incremental changes in the price of energy. This makes the use of the zero net energy concept financially viable inspite of its high initial cost of construction especially for commercial buildings.
- Efficiency: This concept of net-zero construction also incorporates the use of self-limiting mechanisms. These mechanisms help to reduce the intensity of energy use thereby augmenting the prevalent financial mechanism of using fewer renewable. This mechanism automatically reduces the price of the renewable energy thereby making them efficient cost-effective solutions.
- Greenhouse gasses: This concept also helps limit fossil fuel dependence and in some cases eliminates them completely. Thus there is lesser production of greenhouse gasses thereby resulting in a future which is much more resilient and benefitting for future generations around the world.
- Occupants connect: By incorporating the need for energy efficiency and its conservation and weaving it as a part of the daily lives of the occupants of a commercial building, they help to create a connect between the occupants and the commercial zero net energy building constructed. Benefitting directly from the energy efficiency concept, most of these occupants then help educate others so as to popularise this concept and ensure that more and more people are able to avail of its advantages.
- Reliability: It has been generally seen that renewable energy generated is converted into usable energy by the use of photovoltaic cells. These cells come with a whopping 25years warranty and are also immune to changes in the weather conditions.
- Future-ready: There is immense stress on energy efficiency today and there is also a strong possibility of legislative restrictions for commercial buildings which are not energy efficient. In fact carbon emission and footprint taxes and penalties may also force the commercial building to opt for expensive retrofits to comply with these legislations.
While the concept is quite new, its effectiveness has also been proved by the successful implementation of this concept.