How can you move your small to medium-sized office building to “zero energy”? This industry guide provides a pathway

by Brianna Crandall — July 12, 2019 — A new publication is now available from industry leading organizations to demonstrate to contractors, designers and other facilities professionals that “zero-energy” office buildings are attainable, whether by new construction or by retrofit. Achieving zero energy is defined as a building that, on an annual basis, produces as much renewable energy on-site as it consumes.

Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small to Medium Office Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy provides direction for designing and constructing zero-energy office buildings in all climate zones. The guide was developed by global building technology society ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), with support and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Paul Torcellini, project committee chair, stated:

This guide provides a pathway to zero energy and presents design teams with strategies for achieving energy savings goals that are financially feasible, operationally workable and readily achievable. As we drive toward the crucial goal of reducing energy consumption and ensuring that zero-energy buildings become the standard design and construction approach, publications such as this will become increasingly important.

This guide focuses on the design and construction of buildings that are ready to accept renewable energy systems to meet low energy loads. It offers user-friendly directions for the construction of new, low-energy small to medium-sized office buildings and also applies to retrofits of existing buildings, depending on the depth and breadth of the retrofit. Strategies for reaching zero, including energy-efficient targets and how-to recommendations, can also be found throughout the guide.

Additional features of the Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small to Medium Office Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy include:

  • Practical advice for owners and designers to successfully achieve a zero-energy building
  • Information on how every design decision can move a project toward zero energy
  • Specific energy targets for office buildings by climate zone
  • Recommendations for conceptual phase building planning and siting
  • Strategies to reduce and eliminate thermal bridging through the building enclosure including architectural detail drawings
  • Plug load control and management plans to reduce energy consumption
  • Recommendations on lighting configurations, including controls for better lighting quality and energy benefits
  • Information on sizing and designing HVAC systems to achieve maximum energy savings
  • Strategies for balancing energy efficiency and renewable energy generation including the effective use of roof space
  • Pointers on how to apply the guide to retrofit building projects
  • Bonus information on using energy efficiency as a strategy for resiliency and grid alignment

This is the second publication in a series of guides tailored to the design and creation of zero-energy buildings. To learn more and to download the free Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small to Medium Office Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy, visit the ASHRAE website and use the hashtag #ZeroAEDG for social media posts.