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What is a Net Zero Building?

May 30th 2015 at 2:44 AM

A net zero building, also known as net zero energy building, zero energy building, or a zero net energy building is a building which, in a year, produces the same amount of energy through renewable sources that it utilizes from the grid. By alternating between using non-renewable energy and cutting down its use elsewhere, the net energy consumption in a year amounts to zero, as a result of which no extra greenhouse gases are released in the atmosphere.



There are other variations. There are ‘energy-plus buildings’ that generate more energy than they consume in a year. ‘Ultra-low energy buildings’ or ‘near-zero energy buildings’ consume slightly more than produced. In net zero buildings, energy is produced on-site through renewable technologies utilizing wind and sunlight while advanced HVAC and lighting systems minimize consumption.

Often, the electrical grid is used for energy storage; however, there are others that are independent. Although net zero buildings are not a common sight even in developed countries as of the present, their efficiency and environment-friendliness is making governments and developers think more seriously about them.

Net zero buildings offer to be a worthwhile option for energy efficiency measures. Given that residential, commercial, and industrial buildings are great energy guzzlers, investing in the construction of such buildings will prove to be highly beneficial. Especially in developing countries like India which have abundant sources for solar and wind power generation and where high power deficits demand actions for creating more sustainable sources of energy, such buildings can help in addressing energy crisis situations.

Moreover, rapid population growth and economic expansion that necessitates more buildings to be build year are only going to burden the energy resource availability further. Therefore, it is only practical to invest in technology that will make buildings self-sufficient or at least low energy intensive for the future.

According to an article published in the journal of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) in September 2006, documenting the performance of buildings vis-à-vis the carbon footprint can go a long way in achieving results as a feasible target can be set. Experiences and learned lessons can help energize the adoption of technology into markets.

It further says that engineers and architects can be instrumental in facilitating decisions that economically responsible, environmentally sound, and occupant friendly because most of the cost-effective steps for reducing the energy consumption of a building need to be made at the designing stage. The beginning can be happen with low-energy buildings.

What do you think can be done to increase the preference for such buildings in India? Share your opinion in the comments section.

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