Buildings or developments that display best practice outcomes in energy efficiency, are powered by renewable energy, and as such have been verified and certified as "net zero energy and/or carbon" projects.
To advance RMI’s mission, the Innovation Center was designed and constructed as a ‘living lab’ to test, demonstrate, and share how high-performance buildings are designed, contracted, constructed, and occupied. The Innovation building is similar in size and use to 90% of U.S. commercial offices. RMI’s experience can therefore serve as a practical model for owners of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of buildings that would otherwise contribute significantly to the climate crisis.
The innovation center achieves net-positive energy and is considered the highest performing building in the coldest climate zone in the US (as of 2016) even before PV it is 74% more efficient than the average office building in its climate. It is LEED Platinum certified, Passive House Certified, PHIUS+ Source Net Zero Project and meets Architecture 2030 goals. The building has no cooling system and a small, distributed heating system with equivalent capacity of 1 mid sized home, and it used emerging Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) contracting method.
The building achieves occupant satisfaction, and utilizes passive features such as insulation, airtight weather barrier, capturing winter solar gain, shading techniques, engaging thermal mass, natural lighting, natural ventilation, and collecting solar energy.
The RMI has lots of useful lessons learned to share, and they can be found on the reference link. The Top lessons learned from design, construction, and operation are:
1. Whole systems approach makes NZE cost effective.
2. Commissioning and monitoring are critical.
3. Occupant engagement and education is required to meet net zero energy goals.
4. IPD is useful to help manage cost, contracts, and risk.
5. There are major market gaps in metering and controls, operating to NZE.
Read more here.
The Innovation Center is the highest-performing building in the coldest climate zone in the U.S., producing more clean energy than it uses on an annual basis plus enough to power six electric vehicles. It is one of only 200 net-zero commercial buildings in the U.S. as of 2016, and provides a leading example of buildings that can solve the climate crisis.