What is this year’s competition?
The CECA UofT Student Chapter is excited to participate in the 2018 Green Energy Challenge, which is the 10th Annual ELECTRI International/NECA Student Chapter Competition. The purpose of the competition is for students to interact with their community and NECA member companies, while learning about sustainable building design. Our team is tasked with choosing an existing facility in our neighbourhood that provides community services, and propose an energy upgrade for the building so they can achieve Net-Zero Energy (NZE) consumption.
What is Net-Zero Energy?
A NZE building is a building that generates as much or more energy as it uses and aims to minimize energy consumption. With a building that aims to be NZE, it is not completely off the grid. The building will still be connected to the electric grid as it consumes energy however it will be designed to produce its own energy through renewable energy sources (eg. solar energy). This leads to a net-zero energy consumption. Its connection to the grid also allows the use of traditional energy sources such as gas and electricity since they are resilient in the event that renewable resources fail to provide enough power. However, if the amount of renewable energy exceeds the amount of energy required by the building, this extra energy can be fed back to the utility grid.
To achieve NZE, the concept can be implemented during the design phase of a building to utilize all the features that can prevent energy consumption and produce renewable energy. However, NZE can also be achieved after a building is built. This is very important, since many old buildings are energy intensive but are not ready to be replaced entirely. Retrofitting a building to achieve NZE is a long process that may take multiple years and has to be maintained throughout the lifetime of the building. It is important for a building trying to accomplish NZE to set frequent goals related to reducing energy consumption. We have two tasks to in order to help our client become NZE. First, we will design improvements to decrease energy consumption in the building, from efficient lighting and appliances to better insulation that reduces heating demand in the winter. Second, we will design a solar energy system that will generate enough energy to offset the consumption by the building through the year.s
Why is Net-Zero Energy important?
A NZE building reduces greenhouse gases by using the energy it produces from renewable energy sources, so there is no need for the use of fossil fuels. The property value of a building increases if it is seen to have NZE consumption because it saves money over its entire life cycle in energy and maintenance costs. The concept of NZE has become popular and it is moving much of the building sector industry forward.
- Examples of NZE buildings: https://sftool.gov/learn/about/422/net-examples
- How to make your own home NZE: http://www.zdnet.com/article/10-steps-toward-making-your-home-net-zero/
- More information about NZE: https://www.wbdg.org/resources/net-zero-energy-buildings
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