Conceptual Design Prototype of Net Zero Energy Facility | Rockaway Township, New Jersey Engineers

This project consisted of constructing a prototype energy efficient building that will become a laboratory for innovative energy demand reduction technologies by demonstrating the holistic integration of building site selection, use of energy efficient materials, and renewable energy producing technologies. This initiative will advance the state of the art towards net-zero energy buildings. The prototype will be the first research and development facility built to Net Zero Energy (NZE) level of efficiency with a goal to achieve maximum points toward a US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Excellence (LEED) Platinum standard. E2PM was contracted to perform a feasibility study for the NZE facility.

The prototype building designed for the EcoComplex initiative is a nominal 67,000 square foot three story building. The EcoComplex NZE building will be constructed utilizing a host of energy efficient innovations. The building will be located in an area of historical soil and groundwater contamination. The location is centrally located within a historical industrial area. In addition to the net zero energy aspects of the building, the EcoComplex project will restore an historically contaminated portion of the site, and serve as a catalyst for the restoration of the adjacent Category One (C1) stream corridor. Restoration and clean-up of the site will satisfy a number of goals recognized by the USGBC LEED rating system as defined in Sustainable Sites Credit 3 Brownfield Redevelopment and Credit 5.1 Protect or Restore Habitat. The site area contains a significant amount of wetlands, open waters, and the transition areas / buffers associated with these sensitive resources. While implementation of the project will require the loss of limited areas of wetlands, it is the intent of the project to impact lower quality habitats while avoiding and, to the extent possible, increase not only the highest-quality habitat but also their associated transition areas / buffers, effectively mitigating wetland and riparian buffer impacts on the EcoComplex site in accordance with the NJDEP’s most-restrictive standards.

Throughout the site planning and design phase of this project, great consideration was given to LID techniques and best management practices (BMPs) that focus on achieving a sustainable and green project. The LID and BMPs employed reduce the amount of disturbance and percentages of impervious and non-native vegetated cover, while maximizing the natural hydrologic functions of the site. Approximately 6.57 acres of the subject property’s total 10.41 acres is located within the 150 foot regulated wetlands transition area buffer. At present, approximately 2.20 acres of this area within the wetlands buffer is disturbed with impervious surface area. The redevelopment of the subject property with the proposed EcoComplex will ultimately restore approximately 1.25 acres of the 2.20 acres of existing impervious surface area within the wetlands buffer to pervious surface area. The proposed EcoComplex project will create approximately 1.03 acres of wetlands and 0.09 aces or 3,800 square feet of upland forests within the C1 stream corridor. LEED credits within the categories of Sustainable Sites and Water Efficiency are very similar to the practices of LID and BMPs, so that meeting one set of goals goes a long way toward meeting the other sets. Key elements of LID and LEED strategies that are incorporated into the design of the EcoComplex involve:

  • Ecological restoration
  • A highly specific design for this site and its conditions and context
  • Water conservation & water harvesting measures
  • Directing runoff to natural areas
  • Small-scale, decentralized controls
  • Stormwater pollutant prevention techniques

Renewable Energy Components:

  • Wind Turbines- Photovoltaic Panels- 14,200 SF of Photovoltaic panels (on the entry pergola, south facing tilted at 30°,and also as transparent solar glazing in the exposition center) Equivalent electricity production: 170,000 kWh/yr ; 74% of annual electricity demand
  • Wind Turbines- 30 Vertical wind turbines located in parking lot and perhaps elsewhere on the site; Equivalent electricity production: 60,000 kWh/yr; 26% of annual electricity demand

Key Design Features:

  • Optimized building enclosure for energy offsets
  • Insulative mass wall (AAC) for up to 90% passive energy offset
  • Optimized doors and windows for cooling season peak load offset
  • Automatic solar shutters for cooling season peak load offset
  • Optimized infiltration for year-round load offset
  • Daylighting for energy offsets in all spaces
  • LED artificial lighting
  • Solar panels for parking lights
  • Solar photovoltaic panels
  • Solar hot water heaters
  • Wind turbines
  • Geothermal assisted air conditioning
  • Rainwater harvesting for demand offset
  • Gray water systems for demand offset
  • On-site irrigation sources for demand offset
  • Hydronic absorption chillers
  • Displacement ventilation
  • Energy recovery ventilation
  • Filtered fresh air 24/7/365
  • Optimized pumps and fans
  • Super efficient lighting
  • Building orientation for Circadian rhythm benefits
  • Low impact development strategies
  • Open plan with sufficient access to exterior light and views
  • Green roofs with landscaped areas open to the occupants as a gathering space
  • Informal lounge spaces within the building for gathering
  • Exterior soft and hardscapes that facilitate the interaction with the site
  • Restored stream corridor with natural landscaping & nature trails