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The Quest For Net Zero

What's so funny? Ryan Potvin of EBS Consultants says you can harness the heat from excess sewerage to create energy in net zero energy (NZE) buildings. (So always remember, you're doing important work in there.) Ryan chatted about the pros of pursuing NZE in multifamily and commercial buildings on a panel this week with EBS' Michael Hummel, Carneghi-Blum & Partners' Tim Runde, and HCL Architecture's Karim Hammad. The state mandates that all new commercial construction meet NZE standards by 2030. The speakers say people are willing to invest more for better quality these days (Priuses aren’t the sexiest car looks wise but people buy them for the efficiency and the message they portray). Buildings are no different; people want a better place to live and work, and that trend's here to stay.

There are currently only 10 verified NZE projects in California, and waiting another 5 to 10 years to start thinking about NZE will only put project teams behind the game. (Here, Ryan's with EBS principal Matt Macko.) Achieving NZE means getting the entire design/construction team on board from the programming stage, say speakers. While NZE requires more upfront resources, it will result in reduced operational costs and greater return on investment over the lifetime of a building. Money will be saved from fewer redundancies and changes during construction, as well as reduced energy and maintenance costs over the building’s lifecycle. Plus, if there’s a down market, or if utility costs rise, there’s less risk if you have the most attractive and energy efficient building on the market, say panelists.