Pioneering Net Zero

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   August 15, 2013
Pioneering Net Zero

Our presentation used the example of our net-zero San Diego office to examine the ways in which new technologies, processes, and human awareness are converging to form a new era in commercial sustainable design and construction.

Our efforts in planning and design management from the viewpoint of a building owner resulted in reduced energy demands and maintenance costs, increased property value, and a healthy, exciting, and very productive workplace for our employees.  Building systems energy monitoring, using our own SOLV software, gives real-time feedback and analytics of energy production and usage.

For the San Diego office, Swinerton choose a delivery method appropriate to the project constraints and that emphasized the integration of planning, design, construction, and operations. We used early design decision-making on key cost items, using quick cost-to-benefit analysis, to avoid significant design rework.

On this project, we took care to avoid the common industry mistake of minimizing the initial construction costs while letting someone else worry about high energy usage over the life of a building. For example, HVAC systems are large users of energy. While a packaged, air, roof top system would have been an obvious choice for Swinerton’s San Diego office, our analysis confirmed that a much more expensive, centralized water system was the solution. Not using a packaged system opened up the roof for optimal solar array usage and the addition of GPS tracked skylights.

Also participating on the Net Zero panel was Steven F. Zornetzer, associate director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. Steven spoke about the Sustainability Base project at NASA Ames and told attendees that NASA was very pleased with Swinerton’s performance on what is considered one of the greenest projects in the Federal Government’s portfolio.

Swinerton received a letter of thanks from the director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center for our role in creating a successful summit, as well as an invitation to help plan next year’s event. We are already looking forward to another round of energy collaboration in 2014!