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West Branch Library

A California city started from scratch for its new library instead of renovating after it outgrew space for its vital community programs. The new, net zero energy library will meet its diverse community’s needs for years to come.

RMI Innovation Center

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is a nonprofit dedicated to transforming global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. Therefore, when RMI needed a new office and convening center for 50 employees in the mountain community of Basalt, Colo., they seized the opportunity to practice what they preached with a state-of-the-art building that achieved an unprecedented level of integration, automation, and performance.

Aviation Support Battalion Hangar, Ft. Carson, Colo.

What started out as a path to Silver, turned out to be an opportunity for Platinum certification for a new Aviation Support Battalion Hangar at Fort Carson in Colorado. As the design process moved forward, it was evident that Silver could be easily obtained, and additional credits were within reach for a Gold certified facility.

Cincinnati District 3 Police Headquarters, Cincinnati, Ohio

Built as a sustainable, energy-efficient, and environment-friendly facility meeting LEED Platinum requirements, the new Cincinnati District 3 Police Station is designed to generate as much energy as it consumes.

Community Connection

A new public building provides a unique opportunity to reach out into the community. Cincinnati worked with residents to design its Police HQ.

Westside School, Seattle

Hillcrest Presbyterian Church in Seattle found itself in an awkward position. Its congregation had decreased, but remained in a large well-loved, but inefficient facility. At the same time, Westside School was about to lose its lease. A plan was born: the church would co-locate with another church and Westside would reinvent the facility as a school.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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Archive »Topics & Opinions

Finding Common Ground: Defining Zero Energy Buildings

Buildings that produce more energy than they consume have moved from concept to increasingly common reality in recent years. But until a few months ago, no general, industry-wide agreement existed as to what exactly defined such a building.

Learning from Performance

Achieving net zero energy buildings requires knowledge of best real world strategies.

Code Green Standard 189.1 Comes at a Crucial Time

This new standard for green buildings will enable the transition from voluntary guidelines and programs to enforceable criteria that can be used by local, state or federal jurisdictions.

The Proof Is Performance

The road to high performing buildings is paved with high expectations — but, ultimately, it is measured performance that shows how energy efficient a building really is.
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