The Net Zero Challenge

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The challenge for Net Zero buildings or subdivisions is to balance demand with generation.

Public and private commercial property owners have a growing interest in developing Near Net Zero, Net Zero, and Net Positive energy buildings to meet carbon reduction goals. Zero Net Energy buildings (ZNE) combine renewable energy generation such as wind and solar with high levels of energy efficiency in order to minimize energy required from the grid, by consuming approximately as much energy as produced onsite. Net Positive buildings are those which produce more energy than they consume. Achieving zero net energy is an ambitious yet increasingly attainable goal which is emerging as a standard of energy efficiency in the built environment that is becoming increasingly popular with developers anxious to set their developments apart.

The challenge for Net Zero buildings or subdivisions is to balance demand with generation. To that end, significant advances in energy efficiency technology have been made which provide real time energy management for the Net Zero built environment.

Real Time Circuit Level Monitoring For Net Zero Results

It is important to understand that net zero and net positive buildings are not necessarily ones that are completely off the grid, but rather, they use the non-renewable energy that they generate in an efficient manner. This direction is becoming easier and more economic as breakthrough technology comes onto the market. CircuitMeter’s CircuitMonitoring™ big data energy analytics platform, is an example of software that can help an organization determine exactly where and when energy is being used in order to reach its specific net zero goals.

CircuitMeter’s energy monitoring system comprises proprietary hardware and integrated cloud-based CircuitMonitoring™ software. With the use of real time energy analytics, any facility can analyze energy use across an entire portfolio or buildings or zero in on a single circuit or individual piece of equipment.

When energy use becomes visible it becomes manageable, and managing energy use and improving efficiency is paramount in a net zero application. The following are two benefits of real time energy management that can make a significant difference in a ZNE facility:

  • Prevent “drift” in building performance by maintaining systems at energy benchmarks. Even new buildings that have been built with the latest technologies may experience energy drift within 18 months of a commissioning or recommissioning. The use of continuous real time energy data will keep energy visible 24/7. Real time metering, benchmark, and notification features in CircuitMeter’s real time energy management system provide facility management with a “Continuous Energy Audit” function that can prevent drift and improve building performance.
  • Analyze all mechanical loads at the circuit level. Once a facility has been able measure and analyze energy usage in all mechanical loads through circuit level monitoring, inefficiencies can be identified and action taken to upgrade or replace existing equipment. Where a workplace has heat pumps operating around the clock, for example, the simple replacement of the existing motor with a NEMA premium efficiency motor may account for a significant reduction in energy use when corrective action is taken on one single load. If this step is multiplied across numerous loads, the potential reduction in energy waste can become significant.

Circuit level granular submetering capabilities are an integral part of managing energy use in a net zero or net positive. With capabilities for a continuous energy audit in real time, facility managers now have the tools available to turn their facilities into smart buildings, and meet the overall design objectives envisioned when the project was still at the design stage.