Every business wants to cash in on the green trend these days. But those who are serious about the environment often do it through site-specific environmental achievements, such as net-zero buildings. However, the evolving role of green technology and ever-shifting classifications for net-zero mean that businesses have to take a strategic and well-defined position when contemplating their own site conversion to the standard.
Establishing a Common Definition of Net Zero Energy
One of the struggles defining the push toward net-zero energy is settling on a common definition of precisely what a net-zero building is. On its face, it’s a simple concept: buildings generate at least as much energy as they consume. However, in terms of pure environmental benefit, that may not be the best way to calculate site energy. Source energy net zero buildings, on the other hand, factor in the energy consumed by site power generation, as well. That encourages site owners to opt for renewable sources, like wind and solar energy.
Since there is currently no official site certification process for ZNEs, businesses need to assign their own net zero classification and designation policies internally. Typically, it’s easier to fold energy efficiency features and renewable technology into new sites, rather than retrofit existing buildings, and that’s certainly the way that nationally-recognized standards like LEED are currently angled. So if a new site is in your future, work with architects and contractors that hold green building credentials, like the LEED AP Building Design + Construction certification. Board members, site managers, and other stakeholders also need to decide where renewable energy offsets will originate—off-site from utility-scale solar farms and facilities, or through on-site generation. If the consensus is for on-site renewable energy, it opens up a range of incentives and building programs that sites can use to offset the cost of solar energy.
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