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Revamping Old Building Design for Achieving Net Zero Energy Consumption

It is the responsibility of every home owner, developer, architect, and engineer to develop energy efficient buildings and hence contribute towards the crucial cause of safeguarding the energy resources that are going extinct. The NZEB wave has the potential to transform the AEC industry and make buildings self-reliant for their energy requirements.

Building redesign or revamp is the best stage and one of the best reasons to introduce Building Energy Modeling Services. This in turn helps introduce energy efficiency measures, thus bringing down the energy consumption rates and further reducing utility bills. The key aspects of doing this is conducting eQuest Energy Simulation & Analysis, devising a methodology, and investing time in developing the right building design modifications.

What Makes A Building More Sustainable?

Making a building more sustainable can be done by installation of efficient HVAC systems, which provide maximum occupant comfort while consuming minimum energy. Additionally, making use of the best insulation and air sealing techniques can also help improve the building’s envelop performance and hence save energy.

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Making the maximum use of daylight can also cut down the lighting bills. A “net-zero” energy building is what everyone wants to achieve—and in this process today we can see lots of revamped and renovated buildings that possess their own “energy generation” systems. Energy can be generated from renewable sources such as geothermal, biomass, wind energy, and solar energy systems.

India’s Commitment To NZEB And An Equitable Global Environment

Today while our energy resources are dwindling, it becomes our collective responsibility to travel on the clean energy path, and reduce the amount of non renewable energy consumption and carbon emissions. India has shown its commitment and willingness to collaborate with other nations in moving towards a cleaner and more equitable global environment. This movement was heralded with the construction of The Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Bhavan, in South Delhi, that boasts of India’s largest roof top panel and meets most of the annual energy requirements through on site solar energy generation.

While new built structures can definitely fall under the NZEB criteria, the focus should also be on renovation and retrofits projects, especially the heritage buildings.

Achieving NZEB is more feasible in Low rise building, moderate climate zones, warehouses and buildings that require low plug and process loads.

Achieving NZEB is more feasible in low rise buildings, moderate climate zones, warehouses and buildings that require low plug and process loads.

Achieving net zero energy in an existing building can be extremely challenging. The prime challenge is that, in an existing building the orientation might be missing, site configuration and systems are predetermined and most or part of it can’t be fixed. Additionally, retrofits also have facility managers and tenants who have certain sets of spatial and operational expectations that may be variable in nature. Given the nature of these challenges, achieving NZEB (near zero energy buildings) is more feasible in Low Rise buildings, moderate climate zones, warehouses and buildings that require low plug and process loads.

What follows below is a roundup of the key aspects of the NZEB criteria that can apply to these types of projects.

Estimate An Energy Budget Before You Start Your Project

  • Setting a goal before embarking upon a process is critical
  • This goal should be realistic. An integrated design approach should be followed
  • All those involved should be onboard and every party should be aligned with the goal

Use The Best And Tested Strategies

  • The best policy is to apply the tried and tested energy efficiency practices
  • Some of the prominent ones being—thoughtful day lighting, insulated building envelopes, and orientation for the best solar access
  • Using colors, fabrics and other interior design strengths to promote energy efficiency is also advisable

 Technology Driven Solutions

  • Energy consumption analysis
  • Technology driven monitoring and automation
  • Problem identification and resolution via simulations and analysis should find a place in your green design arsenal

 Fine Tune The Building Design

  • Once a building is ready and occupied, the actual results can be measured
  • There might be some differences in the actual annual energy consumption and what is estimated
  • This difference can be bridged via building energy consumption analysis and tweaking the design for optimal results.

NZEB – Net Zero Energy Building is gradually becoming a mainstream concept. Tapping onto these trends, the industry can transit into a collective sense of consciousness as far as sustainability and responsible use of non renewable energy resources is concerned. This will thereby lead to successful buildings that fall under the maximum energy efficiency bracket.

Project planners and designers aim for NZEB because, it provides more benefits that extend beyond just energy cost savings.

These benefits include:

  • Savings in water, maintenance, insurance and other such miscellaneous building costs
  • A NZEB outfit provides it occupants a better environment that promotes health and productivity
  • Besides, it also improves the reputation of the building owners and occupants, especially if the occupant is an enterprise
  • NZEB means, maximum utilization of renewable energy, hence when there is an energy outage, there is a backup.
  • As the NZEB concept is also a FAD in addition to being a highly relevant and important way of building, the value of a building also increases.

Buildings are the primary energy consumers in the world and rising energy prices and a shortage of non renewable energy resources is a growing concern. In order to fulfill the growing demand of energy in buildings without further causing faster depletion of non renewable energy, it is important to generate energy at the building site itself from renewable resources.

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This can be easily done by using Building Energy Consumption Analysis and simulation in order to define feasible ways of incorporating NZEB practices. This will not only lead to reduced energy consumption and utility bills, but will also reduce carbon emissions.

About Author

Bhushan Avsatthi is a senior manager, consultant, BIM expert and a green building advisor with more than 15 years of industry experience. Bhushan imbibes the prophecy of efficient and prudent use of energy in his day to day life and advices his team to do so as well. He is also involved in green initiatives like nonprofit tree plantation project and promotes using cycles for commuting small distances. Bhushan, handles a team of architects, Structural and MEP engineers, LEED consultants and Energy modeling experts.

(title image: view of Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, New Dehli, India’s first Net Zero Energy consumption building; source government website; Indira Paryavaran Bhawan. All rights reserved.)