Reaching net zero energy usage at your company can seem like a daunting task. But, this process becomes a lot more manageable when you split it up into smaller goals. At EnergyLink, we recommend that in pursuit of becoming net zero energy efficient, a facility should try to reach net zero electric first.
(Pull Out/Highlight): Before we jump into discussing net zero electric, we recommend checking out the first blog post in this series, “What is a Net Zero Energy Building?”
What is Net Zero Electric?
Net zero electric is the gateway to reaching net zero energy usage. Defined on a yearly basis, net zero electric is when you consume the energy you make on site, plus any energy that’s not consumed you put back into the grid.
One of the main reasons why this is a great first step to reaching net zero energy usage, is because it makes economic sense at the moment. Right now, natural gas is incredibly cheap and electricity is expensive, so it would be in the best interest for your company to create electricity, and use what is created. Then, when net zero electric is achieved, you can tackle net zero energy usage with natural gas, although that is a more complex process.
How Your Company Can Become Net Zero Electric
Reaching net zero energy usage can be split up into a 3-step process.
1. Apply all Basic Energy Efficiencies
In other words, apply all the long hanging fruit. Many companies have already made this change like upgrading to LED lights, upgrading office appliances to energy efficient versions or installing a more energy-efficient HVAC system. If your company isn’t there yet, contact us and we can help you move in that direction.
2. Install Solar to Offset Electricity
After you apply all basic energy efficiencies, now it’s time to apply solar if spacing allows. If spacing is a problem, let us know, as we can introduce your company to bifacial solar panels that may get the job done.
In order for solar to be effective in this scenario, it must be designed to offsite a full year of consumption.
3. Install Solar+ to Boost Savings
The last step on your way to net zero electric usage is to install Solar+ to boost savings. When we talk about Solar+, we’re discussing the advanced software that can be installed with traditional solar panels to generate and use your commercial building’s electricity efficiently and lower overhead costs. In short, this normally means installing an automation system. On average, 50% of a company’s energy bill is due to demand charges. With an automation system, you can drive down demand to boost dollar savings each year.
What to Avoid During this Process?
In pursuit of reaching net zero energy efficiency, it can be easy to overbuild solar and pump the extra into the grid, making a debit and credit scenario. Although on paper this is still net zero, overall, it’s not benefiting the environment or the community. The goal is to create what is consumed, and if there is extra it’s important to limit the amount put back into the grid. A good way to do this is by using batteries to store energy.
(Pull Out or Highlight): Read more about how solar energy and battery storage pair well in this blog post, “Combining Solar and Battery Usage for Commercial Use.”
For More Information
For more information on net-zero energy buildings, check out the other posts in our blog series. If you are interested in reading more content similar to this one, check out these blog posts. For any other energy needs, contact us!