Net-zero features: active strategies

Picking up from where we left off on our last “Net-zero features” post, it’s time to explore the active strategies that the new building will utilize in order to achieve the department’s net-zero goal. We continue our interview with SmithGroupJJR’s architectural designer Coty Sandberg.

Two of the most effective active systems for energy savings are the chilled beams and the heat recovery chillers. Sandberg explains that chilled beams are “a high-efficiency system that utilizes chilled water to cool the spaces” throughout the building, which will function as the primary cooling strategy. This system will contribute 10% of the building’s energy savings utilizing a significant reduction in transport energy.

Another incredibly effective strategy for the building is the use of heat recovery chillers with net metering. The heat recover chiller “provides condenser water to heat and reheat throughout the building while simultaneously producing chilled water as a useable byproduct,” Sandberg says. Any excess chilled water produced will be fed back into the campus chilled water network for storage or use in other buildings. The heat recover chillers make up the single most energy-efficient system in the building, contributing 23% energy savings.


Other important strategies involve lighting. All of the occupied spaces use occupancy sensors, which reduce lighting when spaces are not occupied and when daylighting is sufficient. Additionally, the building conserves energy through the use of LED lighting, especially fitting for the department considering ECE Professor Emeritus Nick Holonyak’s groundbreaking invention of the first practical visible-spectrum LED. These lighting innovations make up 5% of the building’s energy savings.

In addition to a few other key strategies like displacement ventilation, these active energy efficiency strategies are essential to achieve the building’s energy goals. In our next and final “Net-zero features” segment, we’ll explore the photovoltaic array that will harness solar energy, the final touch needed for the building to reach its net-zero goal.