Conservation Strategy Works Toward Energy Petal of Living Building Challenge

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Brock Environmental Center Net Zero EnergyThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center is targeting LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification in order to become the most sustainable building in Virginia. It hopes to have a “net zero” impact on the environment and state-of-the-art energy and resource-saving features.

Previously, we described the innovative renewable energy sources that will contribute to the net zero energy requirement of the Energy Petal of the Living Building Challenge. Now we will focus on two initiatives that will conserve energy by using natural light and ventilation to also help meet those standards.

Conservation Strategy Contributes to the Net Zero Energy

Hourigan Construction has worked closely with project partners in the Preconstruction phase to ensure the Center will be a net zero energy facility. In addition to producing energy through renewable sources, these two initiatives will help conserve energy by natural means.

1.  Natural DaylightingBrock Environmental Center Natural Light

The position of the Brock Environmental Center is a large part of the conservation strategy because it aims to collect the maximum amount of natural daylight, minimizing the need for electrical power for light fixtures and heating equipment.

The orientation of the front of the building is generally south, which picks up most of the winter sun at a lower angle to the horizon and provides passive heating during the winter months. The back of the building is oriented north to pick up natural daylighting, without the solar gain, in order to create natural light for administrative work tasks.

2.  Natural Ventilation

Another part of the conservation strategy is using wind to help with the mechanical system’s cooling cycle. The orientation of the building is important again to capture the winds at the right angle. Prevailing winds are either southwest in the summer or northeast in the winter, so the building will use this to its advantage of cooling the HVAC system with operable windows that are opened as the outside temperature and humidity are at optimal levels.

The Energy Petal of the Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard, requiring a series of ambitious performance requirements (or Petals).  The seven Petals are Materials, Site, Water, Energy, Health, Equity and Beauty.

The Energy Petal focuses on renewable forms of energy and requires buildings to operate in a pollution-free manner. It aims to eliminate wasteful spending of energy, resources and dollars. According to the specification, one hundred percent of a project’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy sources on a net annual basis. Therefore, the building must generate as least as much energy as it uses.

The Energy Petal has been one of the most extensive discussions during the Preconstruction phase of the Brock Environmental Center. These two initiatives of the conservation strategy along with the three renewable energy initiatives will provide much of the energy needs of the Center, leading to a net zero energy facility.

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