New report explores path to net zero

Baltimore HVAC components and controls manufacturer Danfoss released a research report on Wednesday summarizing how construction professionals view high-performance buildings with regard to energy efficiency, economics and the environment.

The report, Construction Team Perspectives on High-Performance Buildings, was conducted following a Danfoss symposium on net-zero buildings. For the purposes of the study, high-performance buildings were cast as being 30% to 50% more efficient than ASHRAE 90.1, the International Energy Conservation Code, or the California Title 24 energy code.

“We interviewed more than 50 building owners, architects, engineers, contractors and manufacturers in an effort to identify the key benefits and challenges of designing, constructing and operating high-performance buildings,” said Robert Wilkins, president of Danfoss North America. “The HVAC professionals surveyed indicated strong support for the movement toward high-performance buildings and were quick to identify the benefits that the movement provides.”

Benefits included long-term cost savings, reduced energy consumption, healthier and more comfortable work environments, smaller carbon footprints and decreased greenhouse gas emissions, said Wilkins.

The study also revealed that first-cost issues continue to drive investment decisions, impeding progress toward a nation of high-performance buildings.

“The problem is, too few are willing or in a financial position that allows them to spend additional money to gain the longer-term savings of energy efficiency,” said Wilkins. “So, at today’s relatively low electric rates, our challenge is one of providing higher efficiency at reduced cost.”

To stimulate the development of high-performance buildings, approximately 95% of respondents recommended further educating all professionals involved in building development on how and why high-performance buildings make good business sense.