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To combat environmental issues like wildfires and dramatic droughts, the state of California is creating new initiatives and policies to promote eco-friendly design solutions. This includes the new NZE (Net Zero Energy) revisions, which are intended to increase the number of energy-efficient building projects in the world. Under these new Title 24 codes, new government and residential buildings must be Net-Zero Energy by 2025, while commercial buildings must meet these standards by 2030.
For a building to be classified as Net Zero by the state, it must offset its grid energy with an equal amount of renewable energy generated on-site. Although this sounds like a daunting task, developers should recognize the new codes as a business opportunity since tenants are increasingly looking for sustainable, energy-efficient homes. In this article, we’ll look at some strategies on MEP engineering design for Net Zero homes that developers can use to achieve a high-performance standard in their projects.
What’s a Net Zero Energy (NZE) home?
A Net-Zero Energy home refers to a more efficient residential space. This should be achieved right from the start by improving the building’s energy-generating capabilities and reducing its energy requirements.
In addition, a Net-zero home offers the comforts of a regular home such as cooling, drying, washing, and heating, but more energy-efficiently. You don’t necessarily have to disconnect an NZE home from the grid. However, the MEP design for net-zero homes can include a renewable energy generation system to reduce utility bills.
Another notable feature of Net-zero homes is that they’re air-tight and have enhanced insulation. Plus, their MEP engineering efficiently manages heat, vapor, and water flow, while the roof may have solar panels to produce electricity for low-energy needs. The idea behind an NZE home is to reduce the energy bills to almost zero!
This can be achieved through advanced building systems and thoughtful design concepts to increase the building’s energy efficiency. As a result, you’ll realize significant cost savings in the long run, get a comfortable and healthy home and lower your building’s carbon footprint.
- Advanced design
MEP engineering considerations for Net-Zero homes
Architects and MEP engineers at Innodez use advanced concepts to design cost-effective and smart net-zero homes. This includes the use of the best practices and materials that are specific to NZE homes. In addition, we consider other design aspects like the size & shape of your homes, thermal bridging, building orientation, and air barrier systems. Even better, we create MEP designs for NZE homes that are implementable in the most cost-effective way!
- Energy efficient HVAC system
Since heating and cooling systems consume a lot of energy in any building, we choose the most energy-efficient HVAC systems to meet the goals of your NZE home. At the same time, we consider other important factors like budget, climate, and your needs. For instance, our HVAC design for Net-zero homes can include ductless heat pumps as they consume less energy and are cheaper to install. In addition, we select the correct location and size of HVAC systems to ensure you get the best results.
- Insulated Doors & Windows
Windows and doors are some of the main areas that leak energy in any home. To prevent that, we choose the most appropriate windows and doors to minimize your utility bills and preserve energy. On top of that, we consider the placement of these doors & windows. For instance, we can strategically place the windows to allow cross ventilation and keep your house cool in summer, thus reducing the cooling load.
- Comprehensive insulation
When done properly, insulation is a cost-effective method that will help you create a net-zero home. Our MEP design provides insulation for all sides of your home including the ceiling, floor, and walls for best results. In addition, we use framing strategies to achieve full-proof insulation and reduce thermal bridging for the building envelope.
- Seal the building envelope
Air sealing is a great way to reduce the energy costs of heating and cooling your home. Also, this cost-effective method improves indoor air quality and comfort. Our MEP engineers use effective and proven air-sealing technologies to create a strong barrier that will preserve your indoor air climate.
- Use Renewable energy
If you want, we can include a solar power system in the MEP design of your Net-zero home. That way, you can use solar energy for your lighting and HVAC system to reduce grid dependency as well as your utility bills.
- Energy-efficient lighting
The design of a Net-zero home should use natural light to reduce energy consumption and optimize lighting. This can be accomplished through proper orientation and placement of architectural elements like skylights and windows. Besides, natural lighting makes the home feel cozy and eliminates the need for artificial lights during the day.
Talking of artificial lighting, choose and install energy-efficient options such as LED lights in the right places. Also, consider choosing different LEDs such as cool white, warm white, and daylight for diverse lighting preferences.
- Smart water heating and ventilation
Water heating comes right after cooling and heating in terms of energy consumption. For that, it’s important to choose the most efficient water heating system for your net-zero homes. Also, consider using efficient strategies like heat pump water heaters and solar water heating to conserve hot water. On the same note, use water-saving technologies like water-saving faucets and shower heads to reduce hot water use.
As mentioned earlier, an NZE home should be super-sealed and air-tight to increase its energy efficiency. For that reason, it requires smart ventilation solutions to improve air quality and control moisture levels in indoor spaces. Luckily, several types of ventilators remove heat from the air and return it to the house. More importantly, they control moisture levels and supply fresh warm air in those spaces.
Overall, MEP engineering for zero-energy homes requires careful planning and consideration from the design stage. At Innodez Design & Engineering, we design the most energy-efficient NZE homes that use minimum energy. We use the techniques listed above to create MEP designs for Net-Zero homes based on the unique needs of each client. If you’re planning to build a net-zero home in California, our MEP engineers will help you create the most energy-efficient house, reducing the energy costs further.