Net Zero Energy Community

Project Profiles

Net Zero Energy Community

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The developers of a new master planned community currently being developed in Florida asked a fundamental question about energy: is it possible to use net zero energy (NZE) strategies so that homeowners would not have an energy bill? Terrapin worked with the developer to create a comprehensive energy and infrastructure strategy for the project. The developer’s desire to create innovative, sustainable, and ecologically sensitive design concepts is an exciting pursuit and one that Terrapin was thrilled to help solve.

During this effort, Terrapin framed opportunities for the development as they relate to the goal of creating NZE communities for homeowners on fixed incomes. This analysis included laying out the technological, financial and regulatory options.

The developer’s desire to create innovative, sustainable, and ecologically sensitive design concepts is an exciting pursuit and one that Terrapin was thrilled to help solve.

Terrapin analyzed several NZE projects from around the United States and aggregated the lessons learned, technologies utilized, and economic drivers that would enable this master planned community to achieve NZE status.

JacksonvilleSolar1

Example of a large ground mount solar PV array in Jacksonville, FL. 100 Acre, 15 MW

Early passive and active solar buildings were frequently designed as good solar collectors, but not great living spaces. Clearly the best strategy is to design good buildings that incorporate high levels of energy efficiency. The fairly consistent target of 35-40% savings beyond current energy codes is cited for NZE buildings. The best buildings rely on basic passive design strategies, like increased insulation, high performance envelopes, operable windows, natural ventilation when appropriate, good orientation and shading, and high-efficiency appliances and mechanical systems.

Several critical NZE strategies appeared to be the best to pursue for the Florida climate, economics, and regional context, including:

  • Reduce energy load by 35-40%
  • Ensure that the homes are all electric
  • Integrate neighborhood scale PV arrays
  • Install smart meters and real time energy consumption displays

The final report created the framework to help this large master planned community build comfortable, energy-efficient homes and evaluate energy technologies to achieve NZE. If the project moves forward integrating the strategies that Terrapin developed, it could be the largest NZE master planned community in the United States.

Jonce is an urban planner and sustainability professional creating solutions using cues from nature.