Net zero buildings, which are buildings that produce as much energy as they use, are gaining popularity throughout the world. The earth has a lot of energy to share with us, but actually harnessing that energy is a science that’s still developing. When people are willing to invest in energy manufacturing technologies, scientists gain what is otherwise unattainable inside a laboratory: real world examples in real world situations.
One of the greatest examples of diving deep and making a commitment to sustainability is Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, TX. By employing geothermal heating, solar panels, wind turbines, rain water harvesting, and smart solar management, the 152,000 square foot school is the largest public school in the country to obtain zero energy status.
They didn’t just dip their toe into producing energy, either, they dove right in. According to Architect Magazine, school officials spent roughly $3.75 million of their $30 million on the design strategies and energy-efficient technologies. So what does $3.75 million earn them? The typically middle school in Texas spends roughly $200,000 a year on energy and this new facility only costs $60,000 a year to operate.
A total of 53 geothermal wells that were 250 feet deep underground were used in the design, accommodating around 590 tons of air conditioning for the building. That totals over 50 miles of 1” pipe. Bosch FHP Geothermal Heat Pumps ranging from 1 to 20 tons were incorporated in the design in order to convert the heated or cooled water from the geothermal wells into conditioned air for the building.
A 65,000 square foot solar plant that contained almost 3,000 solar photovoltaic panels produces about 800,000 kWh per year. By employing all of these technologies, the building not only achieved the aforementioned zero energy status, it was also awarded as LEED Gold Certified.
For more info, check out the video below of the finished product:
Almost 7 years ago, construction began on the west side of Manhattan’s $20 billion mixed-use development. On March 15, 2019, Hudson Yards, as the development is known, has officially opened.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, was completed in late 2017. The impressive structure had a hefty price tag of $1.4 billion, but it has already played host to several of the biggest events in sports, including the 2018 College Football National Championship and the recent 2019 NFL Superbowl. In addition to playing a large role in the sports world, it’s also playing a large role environmentally for the area surrounding the stadium.
A new 21-story apartment building proposed for Milwaukee, Wisconsin as received unanimous approval from the City Plan Commission. If built, the new tower could possibly be North America’s tallest mass timber building.
The USGBC recently released their 2018 ranking of the Top 10 US States for LEED construction, which is sorted by Gross Square Footage per Capita. That ranking system allows them to get a fair comparison of states, despite differences in population and number of buildings.
Tall buildings made with structural timber have been on the rise in Canada and European countries in recent years, but the United States has been slower to adopt the method due to code restrictions. The state of Oregon recently released an addendum to their building code to allow taller mass timber buildings in the state and an upcoming International Code Council (ICC) vote could encourage more states to follow suit.
You may have been sitting in your house or office one day and noticed the distinct sound of a bird hitting the window. It’s pretty common, as it’s estimated that as many as 988 million birds die in the US each year by colliding into glass. The new arena that will house the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks has incorporated some design elements that will reduce the amount of birds killed by the massive structure, allowing it to be dubbed the “World’s Most Bird Friendly Sports Arena.”
Dubai has been on the bleeding edge of pushing the boundaries of construction for over a decade. The famous Burj Khalifa, the current World’s Tallest Building, but the United Arab Emirates on the map. Since then, the country has poured money and resources into the construction industry and have sets their sights on a new challenge: 3D construction printing.
Across the United States, any mass timber building designed to be taller than six stories high has to receive special approval from the building codes department. After a recent addendum was added to the Oregon’s building code, the state has become the first in the country to allow high rise mass timber buildings without receiving any special considerations.
Last summer, Tesla announced that the first of their solar roof tiles had been installed on test houses. However, as has become customary with many Tesla products, the company is experiencing significant manufacturing delays.