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Net-Zero Project: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Example


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The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens wanted to construct a new educational center adjacent to their existing visitor’s center to house both administrative office space as well as flexible and adaptable classroom space that could also be used for various events and gatherings. The building needed to establish a strong connection to the outdoors and the neighboring botanical gardens. The client also set out strict environmental guidelines from the beginning of the project, requiring the building to have minimal energy loads and be both LEED Platinum certified and net-zero.

Many high-performance building strategies were incorporated into the design in order to achieve the net-zero goal. The building’s super-insulated envelope features R-20 below ground insulation, R-40 above ground walls, an R-60 roof and R-5.5 windows. A panelized wall system constructed off-site reduced waste and minimized site disturbance. On site 90% of construction waste was recycled. Locally harvested, FSC certified wood was used extensively. The building is sited to take advantage of ample southern light. Natural daylighting, along with energy efficient fixtures reduce lighting loads by 60%. Rainwater collection and high-efficiency fixtures reduce water demand by 75%. Operable windows open to provide natural cooling and ventilation.

A variable volume refrigerant heat pump system provides both heating and cooling. This air-to-air heat pump extracts heat from the outside air in the winter and rejects heat to the outdoors in the summer. Energy recovery ventilators provide fresh air while recovering about 70% of the heat from exhaust air. A solar domestic hot water system reduces energy demand, while a 45 kW rooftop mounted photovoltaic system provides clean, on-site energy.

The building is intended to be a teaching tool for visitors to communicate the importance of resource and energy conservation. Meters on display in the building provide real-time data for indoor and outdoor lighting, water use, electricity production and mechanical systems.

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Net-Zero Project: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Example

  1. 1. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Net-Zero Project Example Photo  by  Robert  Benson  
  2. 2. STEP 1 Collaborative, Integrated Design Methodology
  3. 3. STEP 2 Immersion in the Soup of the Universe
  4. 4. STEP 3 Create your Vision / Imagine your Future • Site Options • Aesthetic Options • Construction Options
  5. 5. STEP 4 Making your Vision Real •  R-40 Walls, R-60 Roof, R-5 Windows •  10-20 kBtus
  6. 6. STEP 5 Empower your Team This  is  where  project  team  goes  
  7. 7. STEP 6 Design Projects like a Living System
  8. 8. STEP 6 Design Projects like a Living System
  9. 9. STEP 6 Design Projects like a Living System
  10. 10. STEP 7 Minimize Loads •  Insulated Envelope •  Maximize Daylighting •  Reduce Cooling •  Occupancy Controls
  11. 11. STEP 8 Optimize Mechanical Systems •  Air Source Heat Pumps •  Energy Recovery Units •  Minimal Distribution •  Rainwater Use
  12. 12. STEP 9 Power with Renewables
  13. 13. STEP 10 Building
  14. 14. STEP 10 Building
  15. 15. STEP 10 Building
  16. 16. STEP 10 Building
  17. 17. STEP 11 Operation for Success
  18. 18. STEP 12 Celebration, Learning & Evaluation Educating
  19. 19. Path to a Net-Zero Mad River Valley 1.  Calculate existing loads 2.  Estimate load reduction 3.  Estimate renewables needed to meet load 4.  Evaluate changing infrastructure for further reduction TOTAL ENERGY LOAD: 166,000,000 – 476, 000,000 kWh or 567,000,000 – 1,625,000,000 kBtus With energy conservation we can realistically expect to reduce energy loads by around 25%. We would then need: 132,000 barrels of oil 55,000 cords of wood, 55,000 acres of woodland 192,300 kW of installed PV, 1150 acres or 1.8 square miles 27 wind turbines (2.3 Mw with 100 meter blades) assuming a wind speed of 7.5 mps, requiring ridgeline placement
  20. 20. A Net-Zero World Bill Maclay, Design principal Maclay Architects Photo  by  Ayacop  /  CC  BY  2.5