Net-Zero Energy & Renewables

U.S. Department of Energy (public domain)

OVERVIEW

With alternative energy sources becoming more affordable, we are finally starting to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

But as the industry expands, there are some growing pains. These systems open up new ways of thinking about our relationship to energy production and consumption, and they impact rating systems such as LEED and Passive House.

The resources found here provide guidance and a better understanding of topics like:

  • net-zero energy

  • thermal energy storage

  • innovative battery systems

  • fuel cells

  • community solar

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  • The Problem with Net-Zero Buildings (and the Case for Net-Zero Neighborhoods)

    Feature Article

    It can be tough to make an individual building into a zero energy building, while working at the community scale can offer up opportunities for energy efficiency and cost-effective renewable energy generation.

  • Making Your Own Electricity: Onsite Photovoltaic Systems

    Feature Article

    Although photovoltaic systems have a long payback period, generous incentives and tax credits can make the systems attractive for building owners interested in reducing their carbon footprint.

  • Design for Adaptation: Living in a Climate-Changing World

    Feature Article

    Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, rising global temperatures would still bring major changes to the climate system and our way of life. This article offers solutions for designing buildings that not only mitigate our impact on the global climate, but also adapt to the changes that are coming-and those that are already here.

  • The Living Building Challenge: Can It Really Change the World?

    Feature Article

    The Living Building Challenge, with its stringent, all-or-nothing requirements, is out to change the way we build. But is it actually achievable?

  • The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind

    Feature Article

    Wind turbines on buildings could produce electricity where it's needed and catch high winds above ground level. However, wind turbulence, safety, cost, and poor performance all make building-integrated wind a limited strategy.

  • Counting Carbon: Understanding Carbon Footprints of Buildings

    Feature Article

    Everyone seems to be talking about measuring carbon footprints and designing carbon-neutral buildings, but these terms mean different things to different people. Some focus just on operating energy, while others also look at transportation, materials, and other building-related emissions. As with so many things, the results depend on what you count and how you count it.

  • Is Nano a No-No? Nanotechnology Advances into Buildings

    Feature Article

    Nanotechnology takes advantage of the novel properties that particles can exhibit at a billionth of a meter in size. Those properties are being used in building materials, where they can improve thermal performance and the effectiveness of photovoltaics, among many possibilities. The field has little regulation, however, despite significant health and environmental concerns.

  • The Challenge of Existing Homes: Retrofitting for Dramatic Energy Savings

    Feature Article

    Greenhouse gas emissions associated with residential energy use account for a fifth of all emissions in the U.S. Retrofitting existing houses to achieve a two- to three-fold reduction in energy use is necessary if we are to achieve the emissions reductions scientists say are required for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Here's a look at how it can be done.

  • In the Pipeline: District Energy and Green Building

    Feature Article

    Very common in northern Europe, district energy systems use a network of buried, insulated pipes to distribute centrally produced steam, hot water, or chilled water to heat or cool multiple buildings. These systems can make use of waste heat from power generation (combined heat and power) or renewable fuel sources to help reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and communities.

  • Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

    Blog Post

    The accumulation of dust, pollen, and bird droppings affects the energy production of a PV array.  This blog post looks into how important cleaning of solar panels really is.