Our Zero Energy Future is Here

By Emily Andrews, LEED AP O+M
Executive Director, Missouri Gateway Green Building Council

Photo: Navigate Office Center

This month will see a celebration of Missouri’s first Zero Energy Certified building and I couldn’t be more excited. There are a lot of different terms out there when it comes to building as climate solutions – green buildings, net zero buildings, carbon neutral, zero emissions and so many more. The Zero Energy Certification is part of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) suite of rating systems, working towards a living future where diverse ecosystems and human communities live in balance and thrive. Missouri Gateway Green Building Council is an ILFI Allied Pilot Organization, so we are thrilled to have a local Zero Energy Certification success story. The ILFI Zero Energy Standard requires 100% of a building’s energy needs on a net annual basis to be supplied by on-site renewable energy with no combustion. The certification process ensures that the building is operating as claimed with a third-party audit of actual performance data.

Navigate Office Center will celebrate its Zero Energy Certification on September 15. This building is located in the Brentwood Bound District and is the headquarters of NAVIGATE Building Solutions, a local consulting firm providing project management solutions for public agencies and private owners. The building combines energy efficiency with renewable energy generation from solar panels so that energy consumed is less than total energy produced.

Over the building’s 12 month performance period, it used 32,880 kilowatt hours of electricity and produced 72,600 kWh, which means it provided over 35,000 kWh of renewable energy to the grid. Other environmental features of the building include zero combustible gases on site and maximizing use of regional materials. Strategies contributing to energy efficiency include a single-story layout with north-south orientation, insulated building envelope, specialty glass and sunscreens, rooftop heating & cooling units with heat pump controls, and efficient light fixtures and controls.

The time to act on more net zero projects is now! In addition to NAVIGATE demonstrating the economic feasibility of zero energy construction, Habitat for Humanity St. Louis has been building Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes for years. It can be done at the commercial and residential level – and on a budget! Increased tax deductions for solar and energy efficiency made available through the Inflation Reduction Act will make zero energy projects even more attainable. Want to learn more about Zero Energy certification? Check out www.livingfuture.org. Or use the IRA Savings Calculator to find out about solar and efficiency opportunities for your home or apartment: www.rewiringamerica.org.