Net-zero energy office buildings

La Jolla Commons II
La Jolla Commons II

Green Tech Gazette explains the technology and design involved in creating net-zero energy office buildings.

Net-zero energy consumption is a growing trend that allows office buildings to generate as much energy as they use. [They] are made possible through a combination of innovative building design, cutting edge technology, and energy-efficient appliances.

Much of the energy comes from solar, PV for power and solar thermal for hot water and radiant heating. Geothermal heating and cooling can also be used. A few office buildings have specially designed wind turbines on top. However solar is obviously better suited for big buildings.

Forbes profiles the biggest ever net-zero office building.

The 13-story, 415,000 square foot La Jolla building – to be completed in 2014 – will be carbon neutral by combining highly efficient end-use technologies with on-site Bloom Energy fuel cells utilizing directed biogas.

The biggest challenge was not technical, but institutional.  In particular, Hines noted that they underestimated the complexity involved in working through the California state subsidies, with the local utility rules, and dealing with issues related to biogas supply for the fuel cells.

Imagine that. A large office building that is mostly off the grid. May the trend continue.