Divide to conquer net-zero

Getting to net-zero carbon emissions is a difficult challenge for any building. First, you have to decide if you're going to tackle both electrical and thermal energy loads, which really is a lot to take on at once. Having faced this decision, I recommend the divide-and-conquer approach: Choose net-zero electrical or thermal, and after achieving one, tackle the other.

11/01/2008


Getting to net-zero carbon emissions is a difficult challenge for any building. First, you have to decide if you're going to tackle both electrical and thermal energy loads, which really is a lot to take on at once. Having faced this decision, I recommend the divide-and-conquer approach: Choose net-zero electrical or thermal, and after achieving one, tackle the other.

That's the path Ferreira Group took for what has become known as the 31 Tannery Project in Branchburg, N.J.

In May 2006, Ferreira Group moved into its new office building and shop. In July 2007, it became the first documented net-zero electric commercial building in the United States. The 42,000-sq-ft building is the corporate headquarters for more than 200 people and provides shop space for a busy design/build firm. It also serves local and international communities as a living lab and showcase for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems and equipment.

In addition to perfect Energy Star 100 ratings for two years, July 2008 also marked the building's second anniversary of documented net-zero electric operation. What that means is that 31 Tannery produces at least as much electrical energy that it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site. It is generating a surplus of electrical energy, enough to operate for more than one month. Right now, Ferreira Group sells this excess electricity and its solar renewable energy credits back to the power utility, earning $1.11/sq ft/year (after paying all of its annual electric and natural gas costs). Ferreira is now working on a fleet of plug-in hybrid vehicles that will charge from the building, helping the company take energy efficiency to next level.

The renewable electrical source of energy is a 223-kW photovoltaic system that feeds into inverters for conventional 3-phase 277/480 VAC electrical distribution. There's also a solar-heated domestic hot water system.

There are three key technologies for achieving net-zero buildings: energy conserving products, renewable energy sources, and monitoring and visualization. Getting thermal, electrical, and moisture loads down is of huge importance, and so is running equipment efficiently (or not at all when not needed). But what about monitoring and visualization?

In a net-zero building, loads and power systems have to be closely monitored backward and forward in time. Problems cannot be allowed to persist, nor can we wait for utility bills to arrive 30 to 45 days after use. Therefore, 31 Tannery has dedicated monitoring and visualization systems that produce instantaneous status reports on the building, systems, and equipment, as well as easy-to-read trends. A Web-based BAS, pervasive voice/data/video system, and kiosk displays provide real-time, ongoing commissioning for optimal operations.

To complete the transformation to total net-zero, 31 Tannery needs to eliminate its need of natural gas for space heating. Ferreira Group and Noveda Technologies are currently investigating options and potential partners to accomplish this. Solar thermal might work; but perhaps a deep bore, direct-use geothermal system is a better option. In either case, the efficiency of the building and the availability of the hydronic radiant loops make us well prepared for going totally net-zero in the future.

Having completed the net-zero electricity leg of a two-part journey, our goal for net-zero carbon emissions is within reach.


Author Information

Brzezowski is the founder and executive vice president of engineering of Noveda Technologies. While working for The Ferreira Group, he engineered the 31 Tannery building and developed its approach for visualization-based montitoring.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.