Time flies when you’re having fun and putting initiatives into place that reduce our carbon footprint. This December the Sierra Club in St. Petersburg, FL will be celebrating four years in their Net Zero facility.
I get asked a lot about what a net zero building really is. In a nutshell, net zero means that there is no actual energy consumption and zero annual carbon emissions. Even though a building with still use energy, the energy is coming from a renewable source and it is not being purchased from the grid. The building is actually producing more energy than it consumes. The excess energy can be sold back to a utility company to receive back credit. The building is in essence acting as a third party power provider.
In 2012, this was St. Petersburg’s first Net Zero building and LEED Platinum applicant. It uses all environmentally friendly materials and water efficiencies.
So how does a building become net zero? The following is a complete listing of the various features used within this facility.
Solar Photovoltaic Panels
Equipped with industry leading solar panels, this building boasts one of the largest solar energy systems in the area. Providing fully shaded parking spaces and a fully covered roof, the building produces enough energy to be fully powered by the sun.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Powered by the solar panels, they have a public use EV charging station under the carport. Pull up and charge up, straight from the sun.
To keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter, they have installed a water-to-air geothermal heat exchange system-considered one of the most efficient cooling and heating applications today. These units were featured as of of the most efficient products on the market today with energy ratings topping 30EER.
Tankless Point of Use Water Heater
These efficient little water heaters are equipped with low KW settings and provide hot water at 99% efficiency and minimal stand by loss which saves both energy and water.
Coined as one of the most important features in energy efficiency, they are protected by the sun at every level. With roof insulation exceeding R-40, double insulated windows with Low E and double reflective tint, foam filled CMU and rigid foam insulation adding long tern R-value (RSI), the building shell is built to last.
The windows are tinted with a glare reducing thermal barrier tint that helps maintain internal temperature, provide UV protection and provide another level of safety. This high performance window glazing solution reduces solar heat gain up to 75% – reducing unwanted heat gain and eliminating hot and cold spots throughout the building.
St. Pete’s Net Zero building actively participates in a weekly recycling program The multi-stream recycling program presorts cardboard, papers, plastics and metals. Then they are transported to local facilities for cost efficient recycling.
Using plants native to this specific neighborhood in the green spaces reduces the need for water and artificial chemicals for fertilization and pest management. Native plants thrive with very little care because they’re adapted specifically to the climate and environment in which they’re planted.
Rainwater is collected from the roof and carport into a tank over 1,000 gallons strong. Here the tank is filtered and pumped back into the building to be used as waste water to flush toilets providing for a completely reusable sanitation system. Separate smaller tanks will collect rainwater for irrigation.
Interested in learning more about this Net Zero building? Schedule a tour with the Sierra Club today. They are located at 1990 Central Ave. St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Call (727) 824-8813.
(Credit to All Florida Management Group for creating the feature list)