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Breaking Down Net Zero Building: Reality or Wishful Thinking?


Ashley Halligan, an analyst who regularly reports on sustainability issues, recently published an article defining and breaking down the idea of net zero building.

Beginning with an agreed-upon definition from experts she interviewed, she explains, “Net zero indicates that a building has generated at least as much power as it has consumed over a 12-month benchmarking period–which allows for seasonality to be factored into the measurement.”

She interviewed several experts including, Brian Anderson, Founding Partner of Anderson Porter Design, Dru B. Crawley, former Commercial Buildings Team Lead for the Department of Energy and current Director of Building Performance at Bentley Systems, Blake Bisson, VP of Sales & Marketing at Ekotrope, and Jeff Blankman, McCormick’s Sustainable Manufacturing Manager.

And the experts shed light on two types of net zero projects–retrofitting existing facilities to become higher performance, and eventually net zero consumption–and those that are designed from the ground-up with the intention of producing as much energy as it consumes.

Using a case study of the food conglomerate, McCormick, we learn how they achieved net zero status in a 363,000 square foot distribution facility after undertaking an energy efficiency makeover and installing photovoltaic solar panels (PV) to produce the remaining energy necessary to create an equilibrium.

Finally, the experts weigh in on whether net zero is truly obtainable across the board, or if the concept is simply wishful thinking.

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