Trivium Advisors defines a net zero energy building as a building site that generates as much energy as it consumes in a 12 month period. For example, if a building consumes 10,000 kilowatt hours in a year, it must generate 10,000 kilowatt hours in that same year to be considered net zero energy. If that building consumes 10,000 kilowatt hours in a year, and generates 9,000 kilowatt hours in the same year, we can consider that building to be a near zero energy building.

What is a Net Zero Energy Building?

The concept of a net zero energy building is relatively fresh. Currently, four ways to define net zero energy exist:

  • Net zero energy in terms of site energy
  • Net zero energy in terms of source energy
  • Net zero energy in terms of energy costs
  • Net zero energy in terms of energy emissions

For a visual explanation of what a net zero energy building is, please watch the video below.

Video provided by the U.S. Department of Energy

Why Net Zero Energy?

The commercial and residential building sector is the largest energy-consuming, as well as carbon-emitting, sector in the United States. With the threat of a carbon tax looming over the real estate industry, choosing to build net zero energy today will help you save money tomorrow. Although it is early in the analysis of how impactful net zero energy buildings are, research has shown that construction can be done cost effectively and lead to reduced operating costs. While supplying an efficient and productive space for building occupants.

Cost-efficiency is emphasized when implementing net zero energy. 85% of the cost of a building occurs during operations. One of our goals is to minimize costs during front-end operations while developing property by reducing standard energy consumption.

Intelligent Buildings

At Trivium Advisors, we design and implement intelligent and connected building solutions for commercial and public real estate owners and developers. Intelligent buildings are often the first step in creating a Near/Net Zero Energy building. Clients gain significant efficiency by leveraging a centralized point of operational control. Typical components of connected building systems include:

  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems
  • Lighting control
  • Electrical and water metering/monitoring
  • Physical Security and surveillance
  • Voice and data
  • Internet
  • Wireless access
  • Digital Media and signage

Through a centralized point of operational control, we can:

  • Create a more cyber secure facility.
  • Constantly monitor environmental conditions to ensure system optimization.
  • Create a common technology platform that enables plug and play capability.
  • Create a way for occupants to interact with the facility.

How does an intelligent building lower long term operating expenses?

Operating expenses account for approximately 85% of the total cost of ownership. By creating intelligent buildings, you can reduce OPEX through:

  • The consolidation of all building systems over a single IP network that can be controlled by one person. Through this, vendor pricing influence is reduced; meaning that you can rebid maintenance contracts more often.
  • The utilization of analytics and fault detection. You can manage the tenant environmental experience and energy use in real time to uncover potential savings points.
  • Continuous commissioning. You can store all energy and environmental trend logs, as well as information data in the cloud.
  • Increasing staff efficiency and reducing business waste by the consolidation of information.

What are the numbers?

  • Reduced energy costs can save you around 20% on OPEX.
  • The ability to negotiate and rebid maintenance contracts, especially when it comes to HVAC controls, security, and parking contracts; can save you approximately 20% on OPEX. With an intelligent building, you won’t have to deal with a proprietary monopoly from vendors.
  • You can expect around a 10% increase in property management staff productivity by reducing business downtime through use of event calendaring in connection with vendors.
  • A 5-10% cost avoidance through real-time equipment operation deficiency alerts.
  • Reduced technology upgrades and/or additions through quicker implementation and fewer infrastructure requirements.

Overall, a 5% savings on OPEX is an extremely conservative expectation when utilizing all facets an intelligent building offers.

You can also expect to save money on capital expenditures, which generally account for 15% of the total cost of ownership. A single landlord controlled IP network is one to two dollars cheaper per square foot than a traditionally constructed asset.