News Brief

Largest Net-Zero Retrofit Emerges from Adult-Themed Shop

The largest net-zero-energy building in the world is also a triumph of adaptive reuse.

Vegetated shading screens and solar panels now adorn the building on the corner of 44th and Van Buren, revitalizing this once declining area of Phoenix.

Source: SmithGroupJJR

A previously abandoned pornography mega-store recently became the largest net-zero-energy building in the world to be certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). At 16,533 ft2 (1,536 m2), the regional office of DPR Construction in Phoenix was also the first net-zero-energy design spearheaded by SmithGroupJJR.

The firm led the renovation of the windowless (but well insulated) 1970s concrete block building and says it completed the project in less than ten months.

Now, the building has nearly 90 operable windows, and daylight is drawn into office spaces by 82 solar optical tubes. An 87-foot solar chimney helps keep the building cool in its desert location by releasing hot air from the building, while four evaporative “shower towers” direct water-cooled air inside. A 79kW photovoltaic system shading the parking lot offsets the building’s entire annual energy consumption.

“Many building owners may think it’s impossible to turn an aging, neglected building into something highly sustainable—especially in an extreme climate like Phoenix,” said Mark Roddy, AIA, SmithGroupJJR design principal, in a press release. “But that’s precisely what we’ve achieved.”


Published September 3, 2013

Pearson, C. (2013, September 3). Largest Net-Zero Retrofit Emerges from Adult-Themed Shop. Retrieved from

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September 3, 2013 - 2:50 pm

I think it is worth noting that there are several net zero energy buildings that are far larger than the DPR office which you list as 16,533 ft2. The NREL Research Facility (RSF) is 330,000 ft2 and the Exploratorium in San Francisco clocks in at over 300,000 ft2. Granted they are not certified by the ILFI but it should be noted that there are indeed far larger net zero projects. A detailed report by NREL of the RSF actual versus designed energy consumption and production performance can be found at