A Prototype for a Zero Carbon Emissions Office Building in St. Louis, MO.

Setting a High Target for Energy Efficiency

Before beginning design, the team evaluated energy use data for similar buildings and set an energy efficiency target of 80 percent compared to a benchmark office building in the St. Louis climate region. Establishing this aggressive energy efficiency target enabled them to produce the amount of on-site renewable energy required to reach a net zero carbon emissions footprint for the building.

Comparative analysis guided all decisions, major or minor, by explicating emissions data and creating a design driven by performance metrics. The mantra was, “model, measure and manage.”

Creating iterative virtual building models and measuring performance at every step of the design forced the team to manage its expectations until a working design emerged. Subsequent iterations refined initial decisions and resulted in a solution that achieved 73 percent energy use reduction through efficiency measures, with the balance satisfied by renewable energy sources.

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