What Is a Zero Energy Building?
The term “zero-energy building” (or “zero net energy building”) is used to designate structures that have no net energy consumption and produce no carbon emissions. Many people in developing countries already live in zero-energy buildings such as huts, shacks and caves with no access to electricity. Of course, not many people in industrialized countries have romantic notions of living in a yurt.
The idea of zero net energy buildings is a relatively novel one in developed nations. Many of them employ highly efficient lighting and HVAC systems to reduce energy consumption, coupled with renewable energy generating technologies like photovoltaic solar cells and wind turbines to fulfill the remaining energy needs.
Off the Grid: Zero Energy Buildings Increasingly Viable
Zero energy buildings can operate off the grid—with no external energy support. This is an increasingly viable and appealing option with rising fossil fuel costs and growing concerns over their environmental impact.
Climate change has become a pressing issue around the world, prompting growth and innovation in energy production and conservation. Alternative energy technologies like solar and wind allow small-scale energy production, which is crucial in offsetting energy consumption. However, the development of alternative energy technologies is only part of what is enabling people to eliminate their energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Recent academic and industry research on energy performance has taught us much about the efficacy of certain designs. Engineering has advanced considerably in this regard to address the energy crisis.
Balancing Energy Conservation and Production for Zero Net Energy
Both energy production and conservation are necessary in the design of modern zero-energy buildings, which, although relatively rare in the developed world, are growing in popularity as more and more emphasis is put on reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Building use accounts for almost half of fossil fuel energy consumption in the U.S. and the EU.
According to Energy.gov, cooling and heating needs account for about 56% of the energy use in a average home in the United States. If your HVAC system is in need of maintenance to keep it running efficiently, or it needs to be replaced with a newer, highly efficient model, then Zodiac Air Conditioning of Van Nuys, CA has professional HVAC systems technicians who are ready to take on the job.[photocredit: MetaEfficient.com; ZeroBuildings.com]