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NIST’s Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility

In 2012 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) completed the construction of a Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve net zero for a newly constructed house with conventional architecture, amenities, and size compared to homes in the surrounding area.

Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.

The Renwick Gallery was built in 1859, and in the 1960s Jacqueline Kennedy led a successful campaign to restore the building’s use as a museum. Fast forward to the 21st century and the building’s comprehensive two-year renovation program significantly reconfigured building mechanical space to address improved access for maintenance, while reducing energy and water use.

Byron G. Rogers Federal Building: Denver, Colo.

Modernizing Denver’s 1960s-era Byron G. Rogers Federal Building capitalized on a decision made in 1850 by the original city planners to lay out the downtown streets at 45 degrees to the four cardinal points. Without considering the solar orientation, the design respected the street orientation and the result placed the main buildings facing southwest. While this is great for watching the sun set over the mountains, the building becomes a giant solar heat collector.

Biosciences Research Building: National University of Ireland, Galway

Natural ventilation is usually not the first technique considered when designing a research lab. But the National University of Ireland, Galway, built a highly energy efficient lab at a low cost using passive strategies as the cornerstone.

Brock Environmental Center: Virginia Beach, Va.

For buildings to withstand sea-level rise, coastline erosion, and hurricanes, they need to be built to work with nature, not against it. The Brock Environmental Center is a living example of how to minimize impact on the environment while being resilient to future challenges. The triple net zero building is the latest to receive Living Building Challenge certification and is the first in the U.S. to receive a permit for drinking rainwater treated to federal standards.

WaterHub at Emory University: Atlanta

As water resources grow increasingly taxed and scarce in communities across the U.S., an Atlanta university is turning to an unlikely resource to reduce its drinking water demand: the local sewer. The WaterHub at Emory University turns waste into a resource, recycling wastewater via an ecological treatment facility–the first of its kind in the U.S. Its sustainable treatment process sets an example of how adaptive technology can be used to meet water needs while reducing water costs.

Stevens Library at Sacred Heart Schools: Atherton, Calif.

For schools in drought-stricken areas, net zero energy and water strategies help future-proof against utility rate hikes. But, the price tag for net zero can be too high for school budgets. Fortunately, a library project at Sacred Heart School in northern California illustrates that it is possible to deliver a net zero energy building within a conventional budget while teaching kids about the value of conserving resources.

749 University Row: Madison, Wis.

Conceived during the building slump of the Great Recession, this multi-tenant building in Madison, Wis., tells an important economic story: a developer-driven project can attain a high level of performance while remaining competitive and replicable in the market.

The Edge: Atlanta

Existing buildings hold tremendous potential for reducing the overall environmental impact of energy used by buildings. One Atlanta design firm sought to prove the possibilities for energy excellence in an existing building by transforming a 1940s former hardware shop. Located in a historic neighborhood undergoing revitalization, the project also exemplifies the complexities involved and care required to maintain ongoing performance in a living, breathing building.

Roxbury E+ Townhomes: Boston

Conceived as a replicable prototype for family-friendly, energy-efficient urban townhomes, this four-unit project in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood is proving the possibilities for market-rate, high performance housing. Traditionally, highly sustainable housing has been designed on a custom basis, available to customers willing to pay the associated cost premium. This net positive energy project proves that sustainable housing can also be affordable for homeowners, make business sense for developers and help reinvigorate urban neighborhoods.
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