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Renewable Energy Usage

The importance of reducing energy consumption has given rise to the incorporation of various energy-efficient strategies. It has resulted in the increase of renewable energy use that has been effectively implemented in zero energy building infrastructure. A zero energy building consumes as much energy as is generates. The paper investigates current trends in using renewable energy in building architecture and analyzes the use of renewable energy in zero-energy building architecture. This research aims at analyzing a way to increase the energy efficiency of building architecture.

Renewable Energy Usage in Zero Energy Building Architecture

Constantly growing concern related to the rise of energy prices, energy independence, the climate change influence, and other factors, have made buildings the main energy consumers in many countries, the USA in particular. It has raised the importance of decreasing the nation’s energy consumption. Energy use can be significantly reduced by incorporating various energy-efficient strategies into construction, operation and design of new architecture and undertaking modernization to improve the efficiency of existing architecture. It can result in the reduction of fossil fuel derived energy dependence by increasing renewable energy use.

A zero energy building is one that has zero net energy consumption. It means that the total energy amount used by the building is almost equal to the renewable energy amount (Baden, Fairey, Waide, & Laustsen, 2006). The energy performance of a zero energy building is defined in several ways. The definition mostly depends on the boundary and the metric, project goals, design teams values, and the owner of a building. There exist net-zero site energy, net-zero energy emissions, net-zero source energy, and net-zero energy costs (Torcellini, Pless, Deru, & Crawley, 2006). Rapid progress in new energy, construction techniques and technologies, as well as constant researches have enabled the possibility to develop modern zero-energy building architecture.

The most cost-effective and productive ways of reducing the consumption of the building’s energy tend to occur during the process of building design (Vieira, 2006). Efficient energy use may be achieved through zero energy design departs that significantly differ from the practice of traditional building architecture. Successful zero energy building architecture usually combines artificial conditioning.

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The main objective of the paper is to investigate current trends in using renewable energy in building architecture and analyze the use of renewable energy in zero energy building architecture. The purpose of the research is to analyze the way of using renewable energy in the above mentioned architecture.

This research aims at analyzing the way to increase the energy efficiency of building architecture, discussing energy efficient design and technologies related to the renewable energy use. In addition, it reveals the issue zero energy building concept to reduce energy cost by increasing the construction of building architecture based on the concept of energy efficiency.

The research questions are as follows:

  1. What is the reason of using renewable energy in building architecture?
  2. Why is renewable energy efficient?
  3. How is renewable energy used in zero energy building architecture?

Material and Methods

The research subject will be undertaken on the basis of available literature on renewable energy and its use in zero energy building architecture. The research strategy and research approach will be used to answer research question and make conclusions. The chosen methodology presupposes an analysis of the scientific approach and data collection methods.

Qualitative research was conducted to meet the research objective and answer research questions. It was chosen to be the way of representing data collected. Qualitative research provides an opportunity to monitor the use of renewable energy in building architecture by using observations. The research presupposes the use of the theoretical data that were collected from textbooks, international journals and Internet resources. Secondary data analysis was used to analyze and discuss the studies carried out by others (Boslaugh, 2007). Internal data provide information that is important for decision making and are usually derived from website reports and previous studies. Collected information will relate to the use of renewable energy in buildings, zero energy building architecture in particular. The main advantage of this approach is an ability to offer a full picture of the research questions.

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The current research is focused on analyzing the use of renewable energy in zero energy building architecture and highlight the benefits of its use. Therefore, a descriptive research was used to collect, analyze and summarize data, while an exploratory type of research was used to analyze previous researches carried out in the investigated area. The researcher took the role of observer and a critical analyst.

The method of research depends on the blend of project cases, supplementary data, observations, etc. The combination of the notes taken during the research process minimized the empirical data loss. As the data were received from Internet resources, international journals and textbook, the validity of the received is not doubted. Thus, data reliability was ensured by note taking and the use of multiple information sources.

Results and Discussion

The potential for renewable energy is biomass, hydropower, solar energy, wind power, ocean energy, and geothermal energy. These new technologies that harness renewables will soon become competitive with the fossil fuels. The rates of dynamic growth reduce costs and enhance rapid advanced in related technologies (Bullis, 2012).

It was found that the production of renewable energy in the USA accounted for more than 12% of the produced electricity within the country in 2012. The USA has the largest resources of renewable energy in the world. They have a potential to meet a rising nation’s demand in energy. A quarter of the coutnry’s land area allows to generate electricity at the same cost as it generates coal and natural gas.

Research results indicate that energy efficiency may be increased through increasing the air flow in the building, reducing chiller size and the electricity base load, using desiccant in solar cooling system, and others (Huat & bin Akasah, 2011). It was found that the net electricity demand of the building architecture may be close to zero in case of an effective combination of the energy efficient design and the solar energy use even under extreme conditions (Ferry & Monoian, 2012).

The building sector constitutes 40% of the total energy consumption. Therefore, it should play an essential role in the sustainability of energy consumption (Paraskevadaki, 2014).

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The concept of zero energy building architecture is becoming more and more attractive. Cheap technology and increasing electricity bills make people investigate the possibility of energy independence.

The analysis of related literature has shown that there are numerous buildings that apply zero energy principles. We have analyzed seven low- and zero-energy commercial buildings that were designed to minimize energy consumption and reduce environmental impacts. All of them use renewable energy technologies. The buildings have been constructed in different climates. The energy saving range from 25% to almost 70%.

The analysis has shown that the principles of zero energy building architecture may be applied to most project types including industrial, residential, and commercial building architecture in existing and new buildings. The design of projects is not dependent on the market sector and climate zone.

The key elements of designing zero energy building architecture are reducing energy demand to the highest extend and choosing a proper energy source. However, the following actions should be carried out:

  • substantially reduce loads of energy;
  • optimize passive strategy design;
  • optimize active system design;
  • recover energy;
  • generate energy on-site;
  • Buy energy offsets (“Net zero energy buildings,” n.d.).

Zero energy building infrastructure is a technically feasible method used to reduce energy demand. The combination of demand side management with renewable energy sources is a way of constructing architecture with no utility grid demand (Short et al., 2011). Viable sources of renewable energy include solar water heaters, photovoltaic cells, and geothermal heat pumps. The techniques of a passive solar design reduce the energy demand of building architecture. Increase of the renewable energy supply will provide an opportunity to replace the sources of carbon-intensive energy and significantly reduce global warming emissions around the globe.

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Nowadays, renewable technologies are considered to be the best economic solution for new capacity. Since recent times, the cost of renewable power has been dropping, indicating the future increase in the use of economically viable applications (IRENA, 2013, p. 4).

Conclusion

Since recent years, energy consumption growth may be traced parallelly to the economic

activity. Constantly growing energy demand has increased customers’ need in flexibility, convenience, and clean energy forms. The main focus of the future related to sustainable energy has been towards the sector of energy demand.

Constantly evolving building and design areas make owners and project teams set their sights on a challenge that was improbable even several years ago. Nowadays, zero energy buildings make up only a small part of the modern green building market. However, it is evident that this sustainability frontier is gaining traction.

To reduce energy consumption it is necessary to replenish energy source supply. It may occur through sunny skies, fast-moving water, winds plant residues, etc. These renewable energy sources have a huge potential to provide all electricity to be consumed by people. Renewable energy is attractive by its sustainability that means that it will never run out. In addition, facilities of such energy need less maintenance than traditional generators. Moreover, renewable energy fuel is derived from natural or any available resources reducing operation costs. However, the costs of renewables are closely related to the resource distribution across countries and regions.

Zero energy buildings ensure a technically feasible approach that helps to reduce energy consumption in building architecture. Such architecture is designed and constructed to generate the energy required through a combination of technologies that aim at energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

The results of the study have indicated the aspects of further research. Hence, it is necessary to study the maintenance system of energy efficient building architecture and analyze the use of renewable energy in different sectors.

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