Renewable Energy Questions

Ultimately we will want to make up a certain percentage of projected building energy use with onsite renewables, especially solar electrics. How we go about thinking through this opportunity can often determine whether it's realized in the project.

1 Are we allowing for future solar installations on the building (in terms of designing roof surfaces and roof pitch)? Can we integrate photovoltaics into the south-facing shading of the building?

2 Are there ways we can assure of providing at least 5 to 10 percent (or more) of the building's energy use with onsite renewable (solar) energy?

3 Have we investigated local sources of "green power" for possible inclusion in the project? Is it possible to make this project "zero net energy," at considering site energy use?

4 Are green power sources available from the local electric utility, or will we be able to buy green power from a third-party provider? Are these programs "Green-E" certified by the Center for Resource Solutions or another acceptable independent third-party? Can we acquire Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for this project?

5 What is the current and likely future premium for green power, and have we communicated this to the building owner or developer for consideration? Do we have policy guidance to buy RECs, or otherwise aim at a "zero carbon" building or facility?

6 If mechanical equipment will be placed on the roof, will there still be room for photovoltaic solar panels? Why can't the mechanical equipment be put in the basement instead?

7 Can we design our electrical systems to allow for future solar energy retrofits, by bringing wiring to the roof and allowing room for an appropriately sized inverter in the electrical room?

Paul Stoller is principal at Atelier Ten's New York office. This international firm is an expert in energy engineering and climate-responsive design. They were brought onto the Yale Sculpture Building and Gallery project by Kieran Timberlake Associates (see Chap. 3). Atelier Ten has completed a number of design projects at Yale, so you can assume they had the university's confidence in their abilities. Stoller spoke about his team's approach to this particular LEED Platinum project.*

This was an odd project in that it was very fast track. Because of its fast-track nature, decisions had to get made quickly. It succeeded because decisions were made efficiently and quickly and because the design team was very skilled. We had good hunches about what would make for a high-performance building. We worked through those hunches in every project meeting, every two weeks when we had our regular session, and the design evolved very quickly.

The conceptual design phase was the first half of the schematic design process. We did modeling in this phase, examining a whole series of major building performance options. We modeled the implications of glazing percentages on wall performance, of daylight performance, of control strategies, and of displacement ventilation versus mixed-mode ventilation. We looked at heat recovery ventilation versus no heat recovery. We looked at evaporative cooling versus no evaporative cooling. [In this way], we could quickly assess a long list of design options both architectural and mechanical.

Then we looked at the interrelationships of those things. We always modeled things individually and then in combinations so we can see how they would affect each other. That happened in schematic design, and that's how we made our design decisions. That process used a schematic [energy performance] model so it was not a LEED-compliant whole building energy model [at that stage]. [We modeled] a somewhat abstracted form of the building [at this stage], but still one that represented how it would perform.

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