What is NetZero?
The definition of a NetZero building is one that requires no additional energy from the external power grid. It produces enough energy to power itself from onsite or linked renewable energy sources. These sources can include and are not limited to, solar photo voltaics, hydroelectric, geothermal, wind turbines and passive solar heating. The ideal behind passive solar heating is where a building is designed with the ability of its walls, floors, roof and windows to absorb heat energy and redistribute it in the winter. Insulation is a fundamental part of the NetZero building envelope. In the summer months it would be designed to reject solar heat, so solar shading should be incorporated to successfully achieve this. Using shading also reduces the overall cooling energy load on the buildings HVAC system. A building must also optimize instances of natural lighting where possible.
Clever energy usage
In order for a building to responsibly make use of the energy it is obtaining from these renewable energy sources to be NetZero compliant, the building has to have highly efficient internal systems. This includes HVAC systems for heating and cooling, smart lighting, LED lighting, efficient insulation, natural ventilation, water conservation techniques and potentially geothermal heat pumps.
As well as efficient use of generated renewable energy, better ways of storing it on site need to be a very real consideration. Battery technologies are developing at an extreme rate, to meet the needs of longer lifespans, easier maintenance and the allowance of stackable battery setups, which in turn allow for further expansion of a building’s power storage capacity.