Beyond LEED: Northeast Sustainable Energy Association Highlights "New Standards" at Building Energy Conference and Trade Show Next Month

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Now in its 36th year, BuildingEnergy11 (BE11) is organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), and is the oldest and largest regional renewable energy event in the country. On Tuesday, March 8th, three workshops at BE11 will highlight different constructs for gauging energy efficiency and environmental impact beyond the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system: Zero Net Energy, Passive House, and The Living Building Challenge. http://www.nesea.org/be11/tuesdayworkshops/

NESEA believes in unbiased, spirited debate around controversial issues. Everyone knows about LEED - but what else is out there? The Building Energy Conference will foster compelling conversation!

Some 4,000 renewable energy and green building experts will bring their cutting edge thinking – and very strong opinions – to Boston in March for the BuildingEnergy11 Conference and Tradeshow. Now in its 36th year, BuildingEnergy11 (BE11) is organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), and is the oldest and largest regional renewable energy event in the country. On Tuesday, March 8th, three workshops at BE11 will highlight different constructs for gauging energy efficiency and environmental impact beyond the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system: Zero Net Energy, Passive House, and The Living Building Challenge.

“NESEA believes in the importance of unbiased, spirited debate around controversial issues,” says Jennifer Marrapese JD MA, executive director of NESEA. “It’s part of our DNA as an organization. We don’t believe NESEA’s role is to advocate for one energy standard over another, but we do think our members attend our conference with information to share – and a willingness to learn – about what the next ‘big ideas’ in sustainability are. Everyone knows about LEED – but what else is out there? BE11 is sure to foster compelling conversation!”

BE11 Conference Chair Bruce Coldham FAIA of Coldham & Hartman Architects describes Zero Net Energy, Passive House, and the Living Building Challenge:

Zero Net Energy
NESEA’s definition of Zero Net Energy is derived from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s definition, which describes Zero Net Energy buildings as those which reduce energy load to the minimum practical level, then capture on-site the required amount of renewable energy to satisfy remaining needs. According to Coldham, “Zero Net Energy is the most straightforward standard by far since it is a single and precise metric. A Zero Net Energy house, for instance, is essentially one with a zero HERS (Home Energy Rating) – but the standard applies to any building type – commercial or residential.” NESEA actively seeks out and showcases Zero Net Energy projects at the BuildingEnergy conference, even offering a $10,000 Zero Net Energy cash prize for the best demonstrated achievement of Zero Net Energy over the course of a year (http://www.nesea.org/inspirationawards/zeroenergy). A half day afternoon workshop on Tuesday, March 8 entitled Getting to Zero Cost Effectively highlights specific strategies. http://www.nesea.org/be11/tuesdayworkshops/

Passive House
Like Zero Net Energy, Passive House is similarly precise as far as a standard is concerned, and sets a very specific – and very low – operating energy “budget” for any home or building constructed to Passive House standards. According to Paul Eldrenkamp, a longtime NESEA member and the first Passive House Certified Consultant in New England, the rigorous Passive House approach represents a whole new way of thinking about design and construction. “A project built to Passive House standards will (depending on climate zone) get a fair amount of energy from the sun in the form of gain through the windows and via solar thermal for domestic hot water, but a Passive House building does not have to have PV mounted on the roof or on-site wind, or any other on-site electrical power generation.” Coldham says, “There are elaborate design and construction requirements for achieving Passive House standards, which is very tough in our particular climate, for instance. In addition, the standard is set for Germany, and is at present still universally applied - so it is far easier to achieve in San Diego, for instance, than Saskatchewan.” A full day workshop on Tuesday entitled Passive House Optimized is being presented by Katrin Klingenberg, co-founder of Passive House Institute US, who does training and certification throughout the United States. http://www.nesea.org/be11/tuesdayworkshops/

The Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge is based on the idea that buildings can actually benefit the ecosystems they inhabit. It is a cohesive standard believed to be culled from the most progressive ideas in architecture, engineering, planning, landscape design, and policy. “The Living Building Challenge is different because it is a broader challenge,” says Coldham. “It applies to all building types (not just residential) and its challenge is the reduction of impact on the environment overall. In this respect it is like LEED or Green Globes or most of the other rating systems worldwide, but the Living Building Challenge is different in that it is not a rating system – it is a standard, the very highest standard.” The Living Building Challenge includes 20 "imperatives" all of which must be achieved to earn the "living building" status. One of those 20 imperatives is zero net annual energy. A full day workshop on Tuesday will be led by Jason McLennan, the founding author and now Director of the International Living Building Institute. http://www.nesea.org/be11/tuesdayworkshops/

NESEA’s BuildingEnergy11 takes place at the Seaport World Trade Center March 8-10, 2011. This year’s conference sessions range from emerging trends in renewable energy to healthy alternatives to traditional building materials to deep energy retrofits of commercial, residential and historic buildings. NESEA is the only conference that requires its building case studies to adhere to strict guidelines that include a full year of energy data, reaffirming a commitment to present the best building and energy practices at this conference. The conference includes 63 sessions and 25 full‐ and half‐day workshops. The BuildingEnergy Trade Show features 170 exhibitors showcasing the latest sustainable technologies, products, and services. http://www.nesea.org/be11/

About NESEA
Formed in 1976, the mission of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (http://www.NESEA.org) is to increase sustainability in the built environment. NESEA does this by connecting professionals to each other and to information. With a strong basis in whole systems thinking, this membership organization facilitates and enables critical thinking and collective learning between all of the professional disciplines that contribute to the built environment. NESEA serves architects, planners, engineers, manufacturers, builders and policy analysts in public and private companies in the 10 northeastern states.

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Lisa Quackenbush

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