By Alma de la Melena Cox
STOCKTON — PG&E and California’s energy companies are leading the drive to reduce the state’s carbon emissions through smart energy use. We’re working to supply 50 percent of our customers’ power from renewable sources by 2030, and we’re supporting the state’s plan to make all new residential building “zero net energy” by 2020.
PG&E is defining having “zero” energy in a positive way with its sustainability portfolio and is engaging the community with clean energy building solutions that address climate change.
Let’s go inside the Zero Net Energy Home Display and ZNE Modular Classroom at the Energy Training Center in Stockton for a multi-layered, hands-on, virtual experience to understand.
ZNE refers to a building that uses less than or equal to the amount of energy produced through an onsite renewable energy system, such as solar PV (photovoltaic).
Advanced design doesn’t have to be costly, as this home demonstrates. It takes advantage of natural assets such as building orientation, shade for better thermal control and the sun for solar generation. Cutaways give visitors detailed views of high performance walls and attics that use advanced framing techniques creating more room for insulation, which makes for a robust air seal, and saves on lumber and framing costs. Placing air conditioning and heating ductwork inside the insulation “envelope” means energy is delivered to the home rather than leaking outdoors. The less energy that is wasted means less dollars spent by customers.
A large touchscreen dashboard greets visitors and invites them to compare the energy use of this ZNE home to a typical home built to comply with the 2005 California Building Code.
Incandescent, LED, CFL? Lighting options can be confusing, but ZNE home interactive displays shine the light on cost-cutting options and their best applications. The displays show how color shifting lighting techniques can aid the body’s natural sleep rhythms for better rest and productivity, while also providing a beautiful experience. Carbon reduction never looked this bright.
And, a window display brings clarity to solar heat gain and how best to utilize that invisible heat in Stockton’s climate.
Energy efficient appliances, low flow toilets, water conservation fixtures and a variable speed pool pump display all contribute to more sustainable, cost-efficient living.
But it’s not all about energy efficiency. PG&E’s ZNE house tells an important energy generation story too, one that espouses solar for its customers and electric vehicle adoption. ZNE homes depend on PG&E’s safe and reliable grid to manage the power exchanges into and out of their onsite system, so customers can feel secure the energy their wise investments produce will always be there for them when they need it.
PG&E invites builders and designers, homeowners and community members to visit this “home of the now” to learn more about energy efficiency, living sustainably and how they can incorporate these principles into their own new home construction projects.
Together we are building a better California.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.