Commercial building with net-zero status, crazy to think about

A 41,508 square-foot commercial building in New Jersey has been reported as being the first commercial building in the U.S. to achieve “net zero” status. What this means is that the building produces enough electricity to run itself. And, in this case, the building produces more than enough. This building even produces a surplus.

One of the major factors contributing to the building’s production of electricity is a rooftop full of solar panels. Martin Bricketto, a writer for My Central Jersey, says, “Unnoticeable from the street, 1,276 solar panels – enough to fill about three tractor-trailers – cover about 85 percent of the roof of 31 Tannery Rd., the home of Ferreira Construction and Noveda Technologies.”

“The owner said this is my building, I’ve got a successful construction company, I’m going to be around a long time, how do I stay competitive and how do I help the environment?” said Edward Brzezowski, executive vice president and founder of Noveda Technologies, an offshoot of Ferreira that focuses on such technology. Ferreira Construction’s home, the article notes, is an especially green example of a movement in the private and public sector to cut the carbon footprint of buildings and save on energy costs as the state looks to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

In addition to the solar panels, other technologies used to boost the energy efficiency of the building include:

  • High-performance rooftop units to cool the facility
  • A solar-powered hot water heater
  • Nine miles of radiant heat for the facility’s office and shop
  • Conversion of solar energy to charge the company’s fleet of hybrid vehicles

All these energy-efficient components are monitored to provide real-time data on how the entire web of systems is running. “In order to make sure this stuff runs right, in order to make sure green buildings are green, you need to keep an eye on them, because most green buildings aren’t green if you look close,” Brzezowski said. “Energy efficiency, plus renewable energy, plus measurement and visualization – if you’ve got those three things, then you’ve got the formula for success.”

Bricketto reports that the building’s carbon footprint — the amount of environment-harming carbon dioxide it produces — has been cut by more than 85 percent, at 34 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually instead of a possible 237 metric tons without renewable energy, according to Brzezowski, who said the building saves — and makes — money.

“I pay all my utility bills, and then after that, conservatively, I generate over a $1.11 a square foot running this building per year,” Brzezowski said. Ferreira would otherwise be spending about $2.31 per square foot on utility bills.


February 5th in Solar News by Euphrasia.

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