Arizona Desert Hosts World’s Largest “Net-Zero Energy” Building

In the Arizona desert lies the world’s largest “net-zero energy” building. It is the Phoenix Regional Office of DPR Construction. It was given this certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).

DPR “net zero energy” building. Image Credit: Building Dashboard.

Located on the corner of 44th and Van Buren, the energy efficiency transformation took 10 months to complete.

It is the largest building in the world to receive such a certification from this particular institution. It was originally a windowless concrete block building from the 1970s which was aging. It was a 16,553-square-foot storefront. It is pretty impressive that it was turned into such a masterpiece of energy efficiency.

Many building owners may think it’s impossible to turn an aging, neglected building into something highly sustainable – especially in an extreme climate like Phoenix,” said Mark Roddy, SmithGroupJJR design principal. But that’s precisely what we’ve achieved.

To achieve net-zero status, a building must have a net energy consumption of zero over a one year period.

DPR Construction and SmithGroupJJR designed it, and they incorporated the following to pull it off:

  1. An 87-foot solar chimney to induce passive ventilation;
  2. Nearly 90 operable windows throughout the building which work in tandem with the energy monitoring system to open and close based on indoor and outdoor temperatures;
  3. 82 solar optical tubes to bring natural light into the rooms;
  4. Twelve Big Ass Fans (They are actually named that! So clever!) which are 8 feet in diameter;
  5. A vampire switch which shuts off parasitic loads which would otherwise waste energy when they aren’t in use;
  6. Four evaporative Shower Towers which evaporatively cool air with water;
  7. A 79 kW solar panel array assembled as a canopy that shades half of the parking lot;

Source: Sustainable Industries