Exhibition and Conference for SE Europe Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Section 2022, IEC, Sofia / Postponed: seeSUSTAINtec 2021

It’s Not Easy Being Net-Zero

It’s Not Easy Being Net-Zero

Forward-thinking building owners, such as PNC Bank, are constructing new net-zero energy buildings, but a blog posting on HPAC Engineering questions whether some of these buildings really live up to their name.

PNC Bank has opened a new branch in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that the company says is a net-zero building that will produce as much energy as it consumes. The Fort Lauderdale branch features 211 solar panels, high-efficiency LED lights and EnergyStar appliances. PNC expects this branch to use 50 percent less energy than a typical bank branch and exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

The 4,900-sq-foot building is PNC’s 119th newly constructed, LEED-certified building. Many of the money-saving features at the Fort Lauderdale building will become standard in the next generation of PNC’s buildings. To develop the net-zero energy branch, PNC Bank collaborated with Gensler, a global design firm, and the Department of Energy as part of the DOE’s Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative, which aims to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial buildings.

But the term “net-zero” may have been inaccurate in the past. One of the most celebrated net-zero buildings – The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies on the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio – did not produce enough energy to serve its needs for the first 11 years of its existence, according to HPAC Engineering.

Inaccurate and even misleading calculations by the design team are cited for the initial failure of the building to achieve net-zero energy. Even after adding a solar parking pavilion to contribute more energy, the building still had to get some of its electricity from the local utility for the years 2000 to 2011. Other problems included balancing heating and cooling loads from the building’s ground-source-heat-pump system; the complexity of the building’s HVAC system and controls; some defective PV modules; and lack of a specific person to monitor the building’s energy management system and oversee corrections.

In 2012, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies did finally cross the zero-energy threshold. That was the same year Oberlin College had a full-time energy manager for the building.

Despite the challenges at Oberlin College, others push forward with the net-zero concept. Global Real Estate firm Hines is constructing a 13-story, 415,000-sq-foot building at La Jolla Commons in San Diego that will achieve carbon neutrality on an annual basis through a combination of high-performance building design, directed biogas and on-site fuel cells.

As for the new PNC Bank, in addition to solar panels, the branch will include:

  • Daylight and occupancy sensors: The branch uses photo-sensors that control dimmable light fixtures as natural sunlight increases and occupancy sensors that prompt lights and computer monitors to shut off automatically in unoccupied spaces.
  • Direct Current (DC) power: Solar panels send energy from the sun to a DC ceiling grid system that powers LED interior lighting. This direct transfer of energy prevents the energy loss that would normally occur when converting DC to alternating current (AC).
  • Solar shading: A canopy covers the building’s southern exposure to reflect sun during the hottest part of the day without preventing natural daylight from entering the building, resulting in reduced cooling costs.


Related Content "Energy Efficiency & Renewables 2021" :
  • Solar Energy: Grid Parity In India, Italy, and More to Come in 2014
  • Power-Generating Soccer Ball Approaching Production
  • Is using the internet as carbon heavy as flying?
  • Ireland Launches Energy Efficiency Fund
  • Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘Renewable energy: a major player in the European energy market’
  • EU Energy Security: Looking to Biogas and Renewables
  • Biogas From Garbage Powers Monterrey’s City Lights
  • Estonia Is 1st Country In The World To Install Nationwide System Of Fast Chargers For EVs
  • Meeting The Renewable Energy Targets: Governments Make It More Difficult For Themselves In The Long-Run
  • Serbia Seeks Investors to Develop 317 Small Hydro Plants
  • The growth of the secondary photovoltaic market
  • Bulgarian exports to third countries up 12.8% year-on-year in 2012
  • Germany: Solar Process Heat Support Shows First Results
  • Amendments to Bulgaria's Energy Efficiency Act Pass First Reading
  • EU law to create market for electric cars
  • BGWEA open letter to prime-minister/position on referendum
  • Solar Demand Outlook: Europe
  • Germany set to launch incentives for PV storage systems
  • New solar subsidies in Poland delayed
  • It’s Not Easy Being Net-Zero
  • LEED Certifications for Federal Buildings Rise More Than 50%
  • ANALYSIS: The UK learns to love PV
  • IN DEPTH: Kjaer in 2030 plea
  • IEA-RETD launches new policy action plan
  • EC Probes Grid Fee for Bulgarian Renewable Energy Producers
  • EU establishes guidelines for renewable energy policy
  • Energy Community of South East Europe adopts a regional energy strategy
  • European cities may be able to reduce their energy consumption by 30%
  • Greece Plans To Introduce New Taxation on Existing Solar Plants
  • EC Probes Bulgaria over Renewable Energy Surcharge
  • Report: Worldwide BIPV sales to reach US$7.5 billion by 2015
  • Barack Obama Says Renewables Are the Future
  • Bulgaria Seeks Consultant for Designing Energy Efficiency Obligations System
  • Bulgarian Renewable Energy Producers to Alert EC over Grid Access Fee
  • Thuringia Celebrates Its Largest Solar Park in Ronneburg
  • PV Plants To Be Remotely Operated From ABB Control Center In Sofia – Bulgaria
  • Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image - NYT
  • Bulgaria's Economic Recovery to Accelerate in 2013 - Report
  • Americans don't know that $22 are given in subsidies for fossil and nuclear energy for every one dollar given to renewables
  • 2020 Edition

    Under the Auspices of:

    Long-term Supporting Partner


    In Partnership with:

    Official Media Partner :