Tag: zero net energy

Architecture at Zero 2012

in: AIACC / 0 Comments

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and AIA San Francisco, in collaboration with UC Merced, have announced the winners of Architecture at Zero 2012. Almost fifty entries were submitted from students and professionals around the world, showcasing the best of zero net energy design. All entries can be viewed online, and winning entries are being displayed in the Architecture at Zero 2012 exhibition at AIA San Francisco (130 Sutter St., Suite 600, San Francisco) from November 1 – December 20.

The Architecture at Zero 2012 competition was conceived as a response to the zero net energy targets set out by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) in the 2008 report, California’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. In this report, the CPUC set out four “Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies” for California that include the goals that all new residential construction in California be ZNE by 2020 and that all new commercial construction be ZNE by 2030.

Jurors for the competition were Edward Mazria,
Founder, Architecture 2030; Alison Kwok,
Professor, University of Oregon; Stephen Selkowitz, 
Program Head, Building Technologies Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); and Susan Szenasy, 
Editor-in-Chief, METROPOLIS magazine.

Architecture at Zero 2012 is sponsored by the PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Program, an exploratory research and technical advisory program that is dedicated to furthering the knowledge-building and practice of ZNE building in California.


AIACC Participates in CPUC Energy Efficiency Curriculum Planning

in: Public Policy / 1 Comment
energy efficiency, conservation, green buildings, CPUC

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has set an ambitious goal of zero net energy for all new residential construction projects in California by 2020 and for all new commercial projects by 2030. The CPUC is looking to the utilities to create strategies to implement these goals.

To facilitate deeper engagement with our utility partners, AIACC recently participated in an advisory panel to assist PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center to explore creating a multi-level architecture/integrated design curriculum responding to the priorities of the California Long-term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan and the California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Demand Response.

The advisory panel included building science and energy efficiency experts, principals from California architecture and engineering firms, and individuals involved in education and training programs at various California utilities.

PG&E’s goal is to create an integrated design curriculum that could eventually serve as a model for a ‘low energy building design’ certification program for architects and designers. Because the integrated design curriculum, its implementation, and its goals are still in the formative stages, the AIACC’s participation is critical to help create a strong, practical, and reasonable curriculum that meets the needs of practitioners and practice. Participation in this process demonstrates how architects can participate in the energy conservation discussion as advocates, both in the building industry and beyond.
In spite of California’s long history as a leader in energy efficiency; it remains the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world. Nearly every state agency is dedicated to reducing energy consumption and curbing climate change on some level, through energy efficiency policies, research, new building standards, green purchasing, improvement of air quality and reduction of other environmental toxins, consumer incentive plans, and public awareness programs.

The effect of climate change has an impact on every industry today, but perhaps none more so than the building industry. According to some studies, more than half of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. result from buildings and their construction. This includes energy used in the production and transportation of materials to building construction sites, as well as the energy used to operate buildings. Countless studies have demonstrated that significant savings can be derived from green buildings, including the reduction of energy, water, and waste; lower operations and maintenance costs; and enhanced user productivity, morale, and wellness.

Clearly there are many opportunities for architects to participate as a group and as individuals with these transformations that are affecting our world. Architects have the creative vision, the collaborative nature, and the planning tools that make them uniquely qualified to assist cities, counties, the state, developers and other clients, allied building industry groups, and the myriad other organizations who are grappling with these issues.


Energy Efficiency Requirements and the Future of Practice in California

in: Public Policy / 7 Comments
Unintentional Waste Graphic

For the past year and a half I have been the acting AIACC Liaison to the California Energy Commission (CEC), reporting directly to the AIACC State Agency Liaison Committee (SALC). In addition, during the same period, I have been educating architectural firms about the value of adding Applied Building Science services to their practice through a PG&E-sponsored educational program entitled “Moving Architects Toward Building Performance.” In speaking to over 150 Architects, both AIA and non-AIA members, one aspect of our profession has become clear. Many architects are out of touch with the thermal performance of the buildings they design, regardless of a strong belief that there are practicing energy efficiency. Thermal performance analysis is relegated to the Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing (MEP) engineers in large projects and deferred to a mechanical contractor in small ones. While architects have neglected the thermal performance of their building envelopes, the CEC has made the building envelope the highest priority. As a result, the 2013 Energy Code will require mandatory schematic design review of non-residential buildings by a registered Professional Engineer (PE), specifically excluding architects. And its requirements can have substantial, visible impact on building form; for example, it will require architects to choose between what, for many, is an unfamiliar construction technique—rigid insulation outboard of metal studs—and limitations on the allowed area of glazing. Does this mean that architects are losing control of the way buildings will look?

There is one certainty with the proposed 2013 Energy Code changes; whether it means revenue gained or lost, all architectural firms will be spending more time providing a rising “standard of care” for Energy Efficiency services to clients. These services will include some form of building science-based thermal modeling analysis, energy efficiency design, detailing, construction and compliance verification / commissioning; or adding a mix of specialty consultants to projects that will provide these services, such as CEA Energy Consultants, Commissioning Professionals, Home Energy Rating System (HERS) II Raters, HERS Compliance Testing, Green Point Raters, and LEED AP Professionals.

Considering the changing profile of architectural firms in California (mega vs. petite firms, with not much in between) the simplest option is to add the mix of specialty consultants to a project and pass these fees on to the client; that is, if the project can afford it. The downside of this option is the architect continues to lose credibility and design influence over their projects, not to mention potential billable services. As the CEC’s Zero Net Energy goals for non-residential construction are targeted for 2030, and large scale Applied Building Science is in its infancy, it is understandable why the large commercial architecture firms would see no urgency.

On the other hand, as Applied Building Science is booming in the small building sector (residential and small commercial) and as California’s Zero Net Energy goals for residential construction are targeted for 2020, the petite architectural firms in California do have something to worry about, are interested, and have been listening. Simply put, their livelihood may depend on it. When considered, it becomes obvious that adding energy modeling and applied building science services puts a petite architectural practice back in the energy efficiency game, exactly where an architect should be.

The architectural community needs to begin a dialogue on California’s Energy Efficiency Plan, and if it means starting only with those who are listening, then let’s start. It is too late for the AIACC to meaningfully participate in the 2013 code cycle, but not too late to become informed and prepared to assist and debate the technical realities of California’s long range energy efficiency goals.

So, did you know:

  • The AIA has not had a working relationship with the California Energy Commission for thirty years.
  • The CEC and the California Public Utilities Commission consider practicing architects lacking in energy efficiency knowledge and skills.
  • PG&E is creating an extensive energy efficiency training program for architects, because of the insufficient energy efficiency education provided to students in all California NCARB accredited institutions.
  • Architects are not included among the approved professionals in the statewide Energy Upgrade California program.
  • The Savings By Design Energy Efficiency Integration Awards, given independently of but in parallel with the annual AIACC Design Awards, challenge the absence of such criteria in the AIACC awards.
  • The general public believes that LEED certification ensures energy efficiency, yet the first LEED for Homes Platinum House in Berkeley and has proven, in an LBNL Deep Energy Retrofit Study, to be a poor example of energy efficient design.

To initiate a dialogue on energy efficiency in California, the following discussion points are offered:

  • Do architects really think the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) ambitions of the State are realistic?
  • Who is responsible for the energy efficiency of the buildings architects design; the architect or the energy consultant?
  • Is energy efficiency a Health, Safety & Welfare (HSW) issue tied to architectural licensure?
  • Will California establish a licensing procedure for energy efficiency consultants, and will architects lose their current responsibility for energy efficiency HSW?
  • Will the California Architectural Board start requiring energy efficiency continuing education for architects?
  • Will the CEC establish a certification process for a Building Performance Architect, as they have for a Building Performance Contractor?
  • If architects lose the HSW responsibility for energy efficiency, will the exterior appearance of buildings become the purview of a new energy efficiency engineering profession?

Thank you for your interest; we look forward to your comments.


Holcim Award for Anderson Anderson Architecture

in: AIACC / 0 Comments
zero net energy, zero energy, portable classroom, energy-neutral, Anderson Anderson Architecture, Holcim Foundation, Holcim Awards, award, Hawaii, economically disadvantaged, Peter Anderson, Mark Anderson, Autodesk, REVIT, BIM

For their design of an energy-neutral portable classroom for the State of Hawaii, Anderson Anderson Architecture of San Francisco recently won the Holcim North America Acknowledgement Prize in a competition conducted by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.

zero net energy, zero energy, portable classroom, energy-neutral, Anderson Anderson Architecture, Holcim Foundation, Holcim Awards, award, Hawaii, economically disadvantaged, Peter Anderson, Mark Anderson, Autodesk, REVIT, BIM

© Anderson Anderson Architecture

More than 6,000 submissions for projects located in 146 countries competed in the current round of awards, which promote sustainable responses to contemporary technological, environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural issues from the building and construction industry. AIACC Editor-in-Chief, Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, recently asked Peter Anderson, FAIA, about it.

Peter Anderson: The award is for our Zero Energy Relocatable Classroom project, commissioned by the State of Hawaii Department of Education as a prototype for replacement of up to 10,000 outmoded portables currently in use in the islands. While there is no commitment to use our design past the prototype, that was the stated intention of the competitive selection process.

The award is given to projects not yet complete, but readily feasible, so it is not supposed to be an ideas-only award. Part of the intention is to help spur along worthwhile projects that might need the extra push of attention or design funding.

Our project is fortunately already under construction—in fact, nearing completion, being built off-site as a complete structure in a factory near Portland, Oregon. It will then be disassembled into three large components, put on a ship at the Port of Seattle, and shipped to Hawaii. Its end location is at a grade school in an economically disadvantaged area of Oahu called Ewa Beach.

© Anderson Anderson Architecture

Tim Culvahouse: Where could our readers go for more information?

PA: For information on the design of the building, one of the best sources would be the page on our website. The other good source is a website that Autodesk has created, profiling a series of case studies on innovative uses of Revit/BIM software for sustainable design.

© Anderson Anderson Architecture

TC: Would you recommend the Holcim Awards program to other architects?

Peter Anderson: For projects that meet the qualifications, absolutely! We didn’t win one of the larger cash prizes, but—I have to say—the category in which we won had a larger prize than any awards program or competition we’ve ever done, including ones where we got the top prize. So, no complaints . . . and we are automatically in the running for the Holcim Global Innovation prizes in the spring. And they did treat us very well at the awards ceremony: flying us to DC, limo, red carpets, cocktail parties with senators, fancy hotels and dinners. Felt like the Big Time . . . briefly . . . then, alas, back to normalcy.