As the country figures out how to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, one institution is making progress by going completely energy-free. The Electrical and Computer Engineering building at the University of Illinois could soon be the largest net-zero energy use building on the planet, Earth Techling reports.
There’s a reason the net-zero building movement is gaining traction: traditional buildings eat up a whole lot of energy. According to data culled from the Department of Energy, “U.S. buildings account for 39 percent of primary energy consumption and 72 percent of all electricity consumed domestically.”
At 230,000-square-feet, the ECE will pose a challenge to net-zero energy renovators. Strategies are said to include a solar canopy, terracotta baguettes, chilled beams, heat recovery chillers and solar panels with the capacity to produce 1.5 megawatts of power on “the entire roof and the roof of the nearby parking structure,” the university said on its Web site.
As the Techling report points out, the current largest zero-energy building is the considerably smaller 49,000-square-foot David and Lucile Packard Foundation building in Los Altos, Calif. Once finished, the ECE structure will completely shatter the previous record and hopefully start a new wave of environmentally sustainable buildings.