Case Studies

435 Indio Way, Sunnyvale, Calif.

A lot of 1970s-era office buildings are cold concrete boxes that seem to repel light. One of these buildings in Sunnyvale, Calif., was particularly dark, derelict, and impossible to rent. To make this building rentable, the developer became intrigued by the idea that a net zero energy renovation could be a sustainable and profitable option for this building.

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 Net-Zero House, Gaithersburg, Md.

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.

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 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.

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.

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