Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr.
Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
This past October I joined several state officials on the campus of North Shore Community College (NSCC) to celebrate the completion of the largest and first state-owned zero net energy building in Massachusetts. This 58,000-square-foot, three-floor building – the college’s Health and Student Services Building – is so efficient that it generates enough clean energy on site to satisfy its annual energy consumption. Over the course of one year, it will generate enough clean renewable energy to sustain a full year’s worth of energy use. That’s zero consumption, no energy bills and zero carbon emissions.
The building will eliminate its carbon footprint and by doing so holds the distinct honor of being the largest zero net energy building on the east coast and, we believe, the second largest in the country, behind a U.S. Department of Energy building in Colorado.
The reduced energy demands have been made possible due to a variety of resourceful design strategies. The building’s orientation, for example, is positioned to maximize natural sunlight and reduce solar gain during the summer. Natural ventilation and active chilled beams reduce cooling load, while low cost lighting solutions such as LED lighting and occupancy sensors limit the use of electricity. The most expensive investment for the building is its closed-loop geothermal system, which supports 100 percent of the building’s heating and cooling load. Additionally, solar panels on the roof and in the parking lot will utilize on-site clean energy technologies. All design details allow the building’s zero net energy status to be possible.
This project will not only drastically reduce electricity consumption and costs, but will also prevent nearly 400 metric tons of carbon emissions over a 20-year period, equivalent to eliminating the electricity use of 500 homes. The success of the project is evidence of the state’s commitment to reduce long-term energy costs for taxpayers, as well as the importance of creating more zero net energy buildings not only in Massachusetts, but across the country.
In 2008, Governor Patrick appointed over 70 architects, engineers, developers, agency personnel, non-profits, and other building and energy professionals to a task force designed to develop guidelines for zero net energy building. Nine months later, the task force released a set of 44 recommendations for the Commonwealth, ranging from workforce development and public education initiatives to improvement of energy codes and establishment of minimum energy performance standards. The recommendations also included a project to construct two state-owned zero net energy buildings, including this building at NSCC.
The building offers new classrooms, labs, and offices, and provides Massachusetts with its first state-owned zero net energy building and one of the most innovative of its kind in the country. That's a gift that will keep on giving for the Commonwealth.
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Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.