Many people are becoming more conscious of the environment and their carbon footprint. That’s why they’re constructing zero energy buildings. Buildings are no longer just about protecting people from the elements and sheltering them, but they’re fast becoming a means to generate clean sources of power.
This power comes from renewable sources like solar, wind power, geothermal sources, biomass, and many more.
This article discusses the case for zero energy buildings.
How to Achieve Net Zero Energy Buildings
Zero carbon buildings are passive and active structures that use renewable energy resources to generate all their electricity, hot water, and heating needs. Net-zero means the building’s annual electricity consumption equals the amount generated on-site by its solar panels or other renewables. The purpose of this is not only for sustainability but also as a cost-saving measure since it reduces or eliminates utility bills.
To achieve a zero energy building, a combination of currently available technologies can be utilized. These include:
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (PV) and Solar Hot Water
These are already on the market today. PV panels are incorporated into the building’s facade and can generate a considerable amount of a building’s energy demand on-site. Solar hot water systems provide an important part of domestic hot water heating needs in terms of quantity and quality. The main types available for this purpose are active or passive solar hot water systems, which can be used to take advantage of the sun’s heat.
Active solar heating is a relatively recent development in terms of architecture and technology. It has been shown to achieve considerable savings on fuel bills compared with more traditional technologies such as gas or electric underfloor heating.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems
The geothermal system uses pipes that are sunk deep into the ground to extract heat. The earth’s temperature at these depths stays within a fairly narrow range over the year, which means it provides even and steady temperatures. It is not affected by the heat of summer or cold winter temperatures. This system can supplement solar air conditioning and provide heating and cooling in a building that doesn’t need it all year round.
Combined Heat and Power Systems
Combined systems that use natural gas or biofuel to produce electricity and heat in one process can also be used to achieve zero energy buildings. This is because they don’t release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when generating those forms of energy from renewable sources such as biomass, biogas, landfill gas, or others. Large-scale solutions could also involve new developments in wind turbine technology.
The Benefits of Using Solar Power in Zero Carbon Buildings
More and more people are moving their residences to zero carbon buildings. These buildings can make the world a better place to live because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide clean air for inhabitants. You may also find out that these homes use less water as well. One of the clean sources of energy that zero energy buildings use is solar power. Here’s how they benefit zero energy buildings.
Reduced Electricity Costs
With median electricity prices projected to rise by 1.3% from 2020 to 2021, installing solar panels on your roof will help reduce the cost of usage while powering your house with renewable energy.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
A reduction in air quality is associated with many health risks. Leveraging solar air power and energy can help to improve overall ventilation rates and indoor air quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Low Maintenance Costs
When you install solar panels on your roof and use them to power your house, you will save money on electricity. That’s because solar power will supply your heating and energy demands. And the best thing is that you won’t need any expensive maintenance costs either.
The Challenges That Zero Energy Buildings Face
Although zero energy buildings are on the rise, there is no consensus on what the perfect net zero energy building looks like in terms of architecture and design features. There also isn’t a unified way to measure how close any given project gets to achieving net-zero status or a clear definition for what makes it “net-zero.” This means that developers can measure their progress differently from one another. The problem with that is that it may lead them to dramatically different conclusions.
There is also some controversy about the definition of net-zero. This definition hasn’t received universal acceptance. There’s also no way of verifying that net-zero energy buildings reduce greenhouse gases to zero.
The Future of Zero Carbon Buildings
Currently, there’s a global energy crisis. Already, many countries have begun working to reduce their carbon footprint by using green energy such as solar and wind power. Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan, which currently has a goal for reducing its reliance on nuclear power plants.
Zero energy buildings are seen as the future because they use sustainable resources to generate power and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The costs of renewable energy sources have fallen dramatically, which makes them increasingly cost-competitive with traditional electricity. These factors make achieving these buildings practical.
At present, sustainable buildings represent a fraction of total building stock worldwide, with less than one percent being classified as Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB). However, it seems that there is hope for the future. If governments make policies supporting zero energy buildings, they may increase. That’s because affordable photovoltaic modules, improved building design, and smarter operation make a ZEB the most cost-effective solution to producing energy.
Zero energy buildings are not just about saving money on utility bills. They also have the potential to contribute significantly to meeting global sustainability goals by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water usage, and preserving natural resources for future generations.
The reality is that there’s a need for zero buildings if the planet has any hope at all of surviving climate change. Luckily, there are plenty of innovative solutions out there right now that can help the world get closer to this goal.
These buildings are a natural progression in sustainable building design. They are the next step to minimizing the carbon footprint on the planet and will hopefully be around for centuries to come. Therefore, it’s important to discuss these types of structures because they can provide an environment with no or minimal reliance on fossil fuels, which will lead to a more environmentally friendly future.