The World’s First LEED Zero Building
April 2, 2019
Platinum used to be the ultimate LEED rating. Not anymore. A new program, LEED Zero, asks project teams to show a year’s worth of data proving zero impact in at least one of four categories: energy, carbon, water, or waste.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has now awarded its first LEED Zero certification, for net-zero energy, to engineering and consulting firm Petinelli for its headquarters in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.
“We’ve been bugging USGBC about net-zero energy for a while now,” commented Guido Petinelli, managing director at the firm. “It was a pleasant surprise to hear about the launch of LEED Zero just before Greenbuild Chicago.”
Petinelli immediately jumped at the chance to certify its headquarters, which has been net-positive energy for more than a year and also recently achieved Platinum under LEED v4 for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (O+M) using the Arc platform. “It was always a dream to have a net-zero-energy and -water HQ.”
The building itself is a converted two-story warehouse, roughly 4,700 ft2, originally built in the 1980s. A 15kW rooftop solar array provides 25% more energy than is needed to operate the 25-person office space. “We didn’t understand this at the time, but LEED Platinum was a stepping stone toward LEED Zero,” said Petinelli. “It helps that Brazil is a sunny place.”
The firm has publicly committed to achieving LEED Platinum on all its projects, but now Petinelli is also focusing on LEED Zero in his conversations. “Zero is such a simple concept that’s far more accessible to those outside the construction industry,” Petinelli added. “It is human nature to want to do better, and recognition is a powerful motivator. I find it easier to convince clients to go for Platinum, and now LEED Zero, than to just certify.”
Petinelli is next considering certifying under LEED Zero Water. “We have been off the grid on water for almost two years now,” he said. “We harvest and treat rainwater as a source for potable water.” The project also has a constructed wetland and uses 100% of its wastewater for irrigation and toilet flushing.