Three Steps To Zero Net Energy Commercial Buildings

SDG&E Energy Innovation Center Bill Roth green business coachRemember December 4, 2013 in terms of your commercial building and its potential to achieve zero net energy. This is the date that Solar City began offering a 10-year lease for their Tesla-based battery technology to commercial businesses. The lease’s financial attractiveness is its guarantee of a 20% reduction in a commercial building’s kW demand. The demand charge in many electric utility rate designs for commercial buildings can account for up to half of the total monthly bill. Solar City’s lease that guarantees a performance result allows a business to avoid a significant upfront cash investment while still realizing positive cash flows when the monthly lease payment is lower than the electric bill savings achieved by reducing kW charges. Offerings like Solar City’s that supply both advanced technologies and guaranteed financial results are the first wave of a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) technology revolution that will reshape your hotel, store, office building or warehouse into a “smart building.” This article outlines the three steps for turning your commercial building into a ZNE building. Continue reading

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Five 2013 CSR Best Practices That Grew Profits

The Secret Green Sauce by Bill Roth CSR green business coach Corporate social responsibility made the leap in 2013 from being a “do good” corporate responsibility to a best practice for growing profits. During 2013 my Triple Pundit articles profiled businesses and business leaders that successfully won customers and cut costs by making a difference. The top five 2013 CSR profit-making best practices were:

  1. Selling affordable good food
  2. Winning customers with trustworthy behavior
  3. Turning trash into cash
  4. Gaining competitive advantage by deploying clean technologies
  5. Hiring women leaders

Continue reading

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How To Cut Your Fuel Costs By 15 Cents Per Gallon!

Here’s the easiest and least-costly way to reduce your pain at the fuel pump. Everyday we collectively waste four million gallons of gasoline due to low tire pressure. It is estimated that a quarter of our automobiles and about a third of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks) have one or more tires underinflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi) or more below the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. The fuel waste penalty from underinflated tires is 1.5 billion gallons per year. At $3.50 per gallon we are collectively throwing away $5.25 billion a year from having underinflated tires. On an individual basis if you have underinflated tires it is estimated the fuel penalty is equal to paying 12-15 cents per gallon more in fuel costs! Continue reading

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Title 24 And The Zero Net Energy Home Design By Stanford University

DSC_0031Generation Z, the first generation born in the 21st Century, will most likely buy a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home as their first new home purchase. A ZNE home, and its promise of low or no monthly utility bills, aligns with this generation’s fiscal prudence gained through their family’s Great Recession experiences. The incorporation of Information Age technologies in ZNE homes will be attractive to this generation that probably held a smart phone or tablet computer before holding a book. And when this generation is ready to buy their first home their purchase options will be shaped by emerging public policy like California’s Title 24 building code revisions that target all new residential construction being ZNE by 2020.

What is a zero net energy home?

The simplest definition for a ZNE home is a home that annually generates onsite renewable energy that is equal to its annual energy consumption. Today this definition is already being achieved by thousands of home owners across the U.S. that have installed roof top solar systems that generate enough electricity to turn their meters back to an annual net zero. But this current solar path to ZNE ignores the economic and environmental benefits of smart and energy efficiency technologies. It is also being challenged by electric utilities claiming a distortion in the cost allocation of grid services when a homeowner can avoid payment to the utility while still using the grid to supply their home with electricity.

California is launching revised building codes in 2014 that approach ZNE home design through a sequence of steps with the last step being the use of onsite renewable energy generation. California’s approach first targets reduction in a home’s energy demand and energy consumption. One key step is the installation of smart building technologies that enable a building’s operation to achieve performance goals measured by cost, reductions in environmental impacts and reduced stress on the electricity grid during peak periods. A second key step is the installation of energy efficiency technologies that reduce consumption and related generation emissions.

Comprehensive building solutions

The design of ZNE homes will be based on an emerging concept of comprehensive building design. Home design will be anchored upon four technologies that can be integrated into a system designed to reduce costs and environmental impacts while also increasing occupants’ comfort levels and productivity. The four components of comprehensive building design are:

  1. smart building systems that will not only operate a building but can arbitrage between forward-looking building operations paths
  2. energy efficiency lighting and HVAC systems
  3. roof top solar systems and/or other sources of onsite renewable generation
  4. onsite battery systems that be charged with renewable electricity and dispatched to displace more expensive grid electricity or displace the environmental emissions tied to using fossil fueled grid electricity

The information age technologies incorporated into a comprehensive solution ZNE home will enable home operations to realize target performance results measured by:

  • occupant comfort and productivity
  • cost optimization across a range of options including energy efficiency, onsite generation, grid purchases and use of onsite battery storage
  • demand avoidance during critical grid-peak time periods
  • reduced environmental impacts

A ZNE home by Stanford University

Stanford University has commissioned a ZNE home as part of their participation in DOE’s Solar Decathlon event. The home will be used by a University work associate and his family that works off campus. The following six minute video interview is with Jacob Schaffert, the lead architect for Stanford’s ZNE home. In this video Jacob outlines the project’s design path, its costs and the design innovations for achieving mass production of ZNE homes.

About the author

This article draws from Bill Roth’s coaching program for trade professionals entitled “How To Grow Sales From Title 24 Code Revisions” that was conducted on November 5, 2013 at the San Diego Gas & Electric Energy Innovation Center.  Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017

Related articles on Title 24 and ZNE buildings:
Zero Net Energy Buildings: Financing and General Contractor Issues
California Adopts Zero Net Energy Building Design Through Title 24 Code Revisions

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Financing Zero Net Energy Building Design

SDG&E Energy Innovation Center Bill Roth green business coachZero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings are an emerging revenue growth mega-wave for the construction industry. The financing of ZNE investments through zero-down, fixed monthly payments should propel ZNE to the multi-billion dollar investment scale achieved by roof top residential solar. What will drive ZNE to this scale of growth is California’s ambitious building code revisions starting in 2014. These code revisions, called Title 24, have a goal of creating economies of scale for smarter, cleaner and healthier technologies that will make ZNE the cost solution to rising monthly utility bills. Continue reading

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California Adopts Zero Net Energy Building Design Through Title 24

Zero Net Energy home Bill Roth green business coachCalifornia is launching a tsunami of building code revisions in 2014 focused upon achieving Zero Net Energy (ZNE) residential and commercial buildings. In a ZNE building the annual energy consumption is equal to annual production of onsite renewable energy. Under these new codes called Title 24 all new residential construction is to be ZNE by 2020 with all new commercial buildings achieving this ZNE goal by 2030.

Title 24 code revisions create a building design path toward “comprehensive building solutions.” This building design approach focuses first upon reducing energy consumption through the integration of smart and energy efficiency technologies. The final design step after reducing the building’s energy consumption is to install onsite renewable generation like solar panels. Continue reading

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California Title 24 Code Revisions And Zero Net Energy Buildings

DSC_0028Beginning in 2014 California is launching a tsunami wave of building code revisions. The new and revised codes will accelerate building designs that achieve “comprehensive building solutions.” The goal of comprehensive building design is to integrate smart technologies, energy efficiency technologies and onsite renewable generation to reduce a building’s environmental impacts, increase control of building loads to reduce grid-stress during critical peak time periods and provide building owners and tenants increased control over the size of their electricity bill.

Zero Net Energy (ZNE)

Title 24 has the goal of promoting the implementation of zero net energy buildings. In a zero net energy building the annual energy consumption of the building is equal to the building’s annual onsite generation. Title 24 has as a goal that all new residential buildings be zero net energy by 2020 and all new commercial buildings will reach this ZNE goal by 2030. Continue reading

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