John McNally: Plenty to gain with zero-energy
My favorite minor monthly task as chief editor of pme is finding the little news nuggets that comprise our By the Numbers section. Every month I seek out relevant studies within the industry and find a stat I believe you should be aware of that might spark your interest to learn more about the topic.
This month’s By the Numbers section is on pages 34 and 35 and feature notes on water- main breaks in the U.S., President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, and more.
Another item comes from the New Buildings Institute’s “2018 Getting to Zero Status and Zero Energy Buildings List” report — an article I found incredibly enlightening.
In the last six years of tracking, zero-energy commercial buildings have increased 700% and the size of these facilities are trending more to an average-size complex in the marketplace. Currently, more than 40% of completed zero-energy buildings — and 88% of emerging facilities — are more than 50,000 square feet.
Every region in the U.S. has seen growth in zero-energy buildings with California (naturally) leading the way with 131% growth. The Golden State is followed by the Northeast with 100% growth, the Southwest at 95%, the Northwest with 84%, the Southeast with 81%, the south-central states at 63% and the Midwest at 36%.
Multifamily zero-energy projects are the largest growing market segment, including 40 in 2016 alone. Public assembly, education and offices are the next largest markets.
More than 70 distinct MEP firms and 140 architecture companies are working on zero-energy designs and projects. Additionally, 21% of zero-energy projects are designed by six major MEP firms.
It is great to see some positive numbers and trends toward zero-energy designs. I was told the bubble burst on green buildings when I first joined the industry in 2011. I have attended almost every Greenbuild since 2011 and the enthusiasm amongst attendees always is palpable, but the exhibition space amongst manufacturers of plumbing and mechanical products has shrunk. These numbers from the NBI hopefully are a sign of better things ahead.
Reading that 21% of zero-energy designs are done by six firms is startling. It is impressive that each of these firms have dedicated a portion of its workforce to developing zero-energy designs, and they are reaping the rewards.
To me, it also shows how there is an opening for other firms, smaller firms notably, to get a piece of the action. As noted above, zero-energy buildings are not just major complexes. They are becoming more traditional buildings such as condos and shopping malls.
It is time for firms to dig into these numbers and figure out how zero-energy design can thrive in your workplace. Tap into your resources and find an up-and-coming designer on staff to learn more about zero-energy design. Let them grow and becoming the champion of the craft with your current and potential customers.
Being able to develop a success story within your own walls will pay off in some ways you can’t even imagine.