| low-energy developments
ASHRAE Speakers Call for net-Zero Action
By CoLLin ToMB
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration
and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in
March declared itself an agent of change on energy
and climate issues. Opening the conference “
Countdown to a Sustainable Energy Future: Net-Zero and
Beyond” in San Francisco, ASHRAE President Bill
Harrison spoke of the immediacy of climate change.
He tempered his sobering remarks by saying, “At
least in buildings, we know what to do.”
Several speakers called for the United States to
quickly reduce our per-capita carbon emissions from
14 metric tons annually to as low as 1 ton. As the
building industry’s source of standards, codes and
hard numbers, ASHRAE has great traction, and it
intends to use it.
Several themes emerged from the sessions:
• At least four different definitions exist for the
concept of net-zero. ASHRAE itself uses a net-zero
site energy definition.
• We must standardize design integration. Each
building’s systems must be seen as a whole. Success
requires full and early commitment of designers,
owners and operators to the low-energy goal.
• Measurement and verification is critical, and our
current M & V knowledge base is shallow.
• There is a gulf between “as-designed” and “
as-built” energy use. It can be bridged through better
modeling tools and earlier systems design.
• Occupant behavior can turn a potential net-zero building into an energy hog. Designers must
engage end users and design systems that are simple
to understand and operate.
• Policy and regulation will be essential to making
emissions goals. Builders and engineers have resisted
change, in part, because they fear liability. They will
change when emissions become a liability. Performance standards are often viewed as easier to comply
with than prescriptive standards.
• We will need unprecedented collaboration
among owners, architects, engineers, utilities and
policymakers to achieve the emissions goals taking
shape in Washington and worldwide.
• California’s utilities are increasingly active
in demand-side management, and the state’s progressive policies now look beyond Title 24, the
section of California code that outlines energy-efficiency standards.
In closing, Kent Peterson of P2S Engineering, the
new chair of the ASHRAE 189.1 development committee, said, “Never, ever underestimate what it takes
to change an industry. We’re going to need regulatory
work to convince some of these people to change.”
Collin Tomb is an architect and writer in Boulder, Colo.
Suntech Pluto Cells
Achieve 18 Percent
Suntech announced in March that it’s routinely achieving conversion efficiencies of up
to 19 percent with monocrystalline photovoltaic cells and 17 percent with multicrystalline
cells, in large-scale production, by using the
Pluto anti-reflective technology developed at
the University of New South Wales.
Independent testing at the Fraunhofer
Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany
confirmed 18. 8 percent conversion efficiency
for a monocrystalline Pluto PV cell, and 17. 2
percent for a multicrystalline cell. Both cells
came from Suntech’s 34-megawatt (MW) Pluto
Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s chief technology
officer, noted that this performance compares
to 16. 5 percent and 15. 5 percent, respectively,
using conventional screen-printed surface
12 June 2009 SOLAR TODAY
PV Plant to Power Nation’s
First All-Solar City
In March, Florida Power & Light (FPL) announced
plans to build a $400 million, 75-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) array near Fort Myers, Fla. It would be the
biggest PV installation in the world.
In April, real estate developer Syd Kitson unveiled
plans to feed FPL’s PV output into a smart grid for
the nation’s first solar-powered city. His $2 billion
Babcock Ranch project would build 19,500 new
homes, all certified by the Florida Green Building
Coalition. Six million square feet of residential,
industrial and retail space would provide about
20,000 permanent jobs.
The townsite sits in the middle of a 73,000-acre
tract contracted for sale to the state of Florida for
continued on page 14
Copyright © 2009 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.