DESIGNING THE NEW NORMAL AND GETTING TO ZERO
Sustainability is doing more with less. It’s being resilient and responsible. It’s enhancing long-term vitality. It’s preparing for the future with both the head and the heart. Sustainability addresses the challenges of the 21st century— changing climate; expanding population; and imperiled natural systems and resources—with wise and farsighted responses. Taking a sustainable approach isn’t just smart practice, it’s essential for our shared future. We want our clients and communities prepared for the long term—informed and enabled to make smart environmental and social choices. So, we design spaces and places in which our communities thrive.
The approaches, markets and tools for sustainability are evolving. Net Zero is the goal.
Net Zero Carbon (NZC)
When designed properly, a net zero carbon building prioritizes energy efficiency to first minimize loads, then leverages carbon-free renewable energy (e.g. solar PV) to offset the remaining fossil-fuel use and hit the net zero equation. The cleaner the utility grid serving the building, the fewer renewables are needed to reach zero carbon. With NZC, the factors to consider go beyond the scope of the building - the design team must consider the context of the local and regional utility infrastructure, and the impact of long-term climate action plans and the rapidly increasing energy transition.
Net Zero Energy (NZE)
Net zero energy buildings are designed, built and operated to generate as much energy as they consume, when measured on an annual basis. NZE buildings are typically connected to the electricity grid to draw energy when needed, and supply energy back to the grid when they have produced a surplus. Over the year, if the amount of energy generated on-site is equal to or greater than that drawn from the grid, the building has achieved NZE. On-site generation is typically, though not always, achieved by solar photovoltaics (PV) mounted on roofs or solar carports, and are ideal candidates for micro-grid systems. As energy costs continue to rise, investment decisions are more and more influenced by long term operating cost versus upfront investment. Investment in systems and building features that will offset future energy cost risk which translates into energy security and long-term savings. Designing and constructing a building to achieve net zero energy requires attention to this goal throughout the entire design process. First, the team prioritizes passive design strategies such as daylight and thermal mass. Then, we look at high-performance building systems—the envelope, HVAC and equipment—to minimize the building energy use as much as possible before looking into on- or off-site renewable energy options. While the initial strategies may require more investment, associated inflation costs and can have a favorable payback in the long term.
ENERGY SOLUTIONS COMPANIES & CONSULTANCY
As energy transition has accelarated to achieve a carbon-neutral world, energy companies have been re-inventing themselves as energy solutions companies transforming from traditional energy companies.
Energy solutions companies provide 360 degree solutions for performance based energy services including;
energy efficiency, energy management, facility management,
solar PV, cogeneration/trigeneration, energy storage,
demand side management
and even e-mobility.
Moreover, energy solutions companies develop customized and innovative business models supported by financial solutions for various target client segments including public buildings, commercial buildings and industrial facilities.
Energy solutions consultancy companies are usually global engineering and design companies with good knowledge of new technologies (such as energy storage, BIPV and hydrogen), innovative business models (such as ESCO, renewable PPA) and wide range of financial solutions (such as green products/services). Thanks to their expertise and experience, energy solutions consultancy companies create added value for energy solutions companies, local and international financial institutions and governmental and local authorities.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY TO REACH ZERO ENERGY
To achieve zero energy, energy efficiency plays a key role minimizing the energy use of a building or an industrial facility. Energy efficiency efforts must always be prioritized and coupled with on- or off-site renewable energy generation in the journey of zero energy. The combination is key. Trying to achieve zero energy only by increasing the share of renewable energy, without making efforts in energy efficiency, will reduce the effectiveness of the renewable energy efforts.
The ESCO model is one of the preferred business models by energy solutions companies, to reach a wider client segment in the market for energy efficiency investments. As the extent of energy efficiency measures may differ substantially depending on the system, energy solutions companies may need guidance for technical aspects, and moreover, usually a third-party opinion is required. For those reasons, an energy solutions consultancy company plays an important role for the smooth execution of ESCO services primarily involving Energy Performance Contracting (EPC).
ESCOs provide energy solutions including design and implementation of energy efficiency projects under an Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) agreement. In an EPC agreement, the investment is paid for based on a contractually agreed level of energy efficiency improvement and its potential impacts.
While ESCOs can be independent companies, they can also be equipment manufacturers, energy utility companies, and other energy/engineering companies.
For companies that are interested in becoming an ESCO or providing ESCO services, the Energy Solutions Consultant provides consulting services by establishing an ESCO framework and providing training.
In the scope of ESCO framework establishment, the Energy Solutions Consultant develops guidelines and procedures for ESCO services, and develops templates for various EPC contracts.
An energy solutions consultancy company can also provide independent Measurement & Verification (M&V) services for energy efficiency services provided by energy solutions companies.
M&V is the process of planning, measuring, collecting and analyzing data to verify and report energy savings resulting from the implementation of an energy conservation measure (ECM).
M&V is necessary to accurately determine the return on investment and other benefits generated from an energy efficiency project.
The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) represents a structured presentation of common principles and terms that are basic to any good M&V process.
For performance contract projects, where the M&V plan defines how savings will be verified to prove that the contractual savings guarantee has been met and to validate associated payments, an adherent M&V plan needs to be developed and agreed to as part of the final contract approval and/or before the installation of the project ECMs.
The Energy Solutions Consultant provides independent/third-party M&V services for energy efficiency projects implemented under and EPC agreement in particular.
M&V services include but are not limited to developing templates for various types of M&V plans and reports (savings reports); reviewing M&V plans for adherence to IPMVP methods, procedures, and principles; reviewing M&V reports for adherence with M&V plans and IPMVP methods, procedures, and principles; and providing M&V training. [IS1]