The building underwent extensive energy studies to determine usage. The office space, which is used for NZP ETI operations and general office space for IBEW Local 11, showed that desktop computers were one of the largest plug loads. To reduce this, all desktop computers were replaced with energy-efficient laptop computers.
Energy Generation, Storage and Management
Building on the substantial reductions in energy usage, the project team turned its efforts to expand renewable-energy generation and storage. It also upgraded the existing microgrid, originally commissioned in 2012 as the first privately owned microgrid in the U.S., to a utility-scale system.
The newly expanded microgrid now integrates photovoltaic solar, battery energy storage, inverters, an energy-management system and advanced controls to create a truly intelligent building. The NZP ETI’s revolutionary smart microgrid demonstrates how an existing electrical infrastructure—integrated with advanced electronics, energy storage and solar—can provide a platform for smarter and more reliable electrical systems.
The NZP ETI is estimated to generate about 1.25 times the energy it uses on an annual basis through an expanded PV solar array, which now totals about 600kW. In 2004, the NZP ETI had a nearly 500 kW PV solar system installed on the rooftop, which was the largest array in the U.S at the time. New solar panels were added on shade structures in the NZP ETI’s parking lot, which also includes 12 electrical vehicle-charging stations.
Additionally, the NZP ETI features an advanced energy-management system that optimizes energy ows based on peak demand, deciding when electricity should be stored and when it should be used. The system is designed to reduce operational and energy costs; increase productivity; and help determine fast, accurate decisions on energy management.
Energy generated onsite can be used to power building operations or be stored in the battery energy-storage system. This system will automatically save energy off-peak when the cost is lower and power on the grid is plentiful and it will use that energy during peak times when it’s in high demand and more expensive. Using alerts provided by the local utility, the NZP ETI can participate in Auto Demand Response programs by injecting power into the electrical grid when demand is high.
The battery-storage system also provides the NZP ETI the ability to “island” itself and operate independently from the electrical grid for extended periods. This models improved solutions for disaster and emergency response or during interruptions in the electrical grid.
Demonstration Center and Living Laboratory
Designed as a place to inspire and educate, the NZP ETI is a demonstration center for how net-zero-energy buildings should be designed, constructed, managed and evaluated.
In the NZP ETI’s new lobby, there are six interactive dashboard displays that provide real-time and historical analytics of the building’s energy generation, consumption and storage. These displays provide the opportunity for students, staff, and visitors to engage with and understand the advanced technologies and designs of the NZP ETI.
The NZP ETI also has been designed as a living laboratory to test, demonstrate, train and bring-to-market emerging energy technologies. The center will continually evolve with new technologies and design strategies as the industry continues to grow and new products become available.