Net-zero building is catching on in America, claims Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, and with a market predicted to grow to $1.3 trillion, it's a building type worth paying attention to. Apparently the AIA agrees. Architects Hennebery Eddy recently received an AIA Gold Medal for Portland Community College Newberg, which "consumes zero energy from the grid--a remarkable feat for a large, institutional building--and it's providing a roadmap for other architects hoping to achieve elusive net-zero ratings," writes Campbell-Dollaghan.
Hennebery Eddy's 13,500-square-foot building - seen as a precedent-setting "flagship project" - is the first, crucial step in an effort to build one of the country's first net-zero campuses. The school uses no air conditioning, relying only on passive ventilation, and is connected to bike and bus lanes to promote alternative transportation and reduce carbon emissions.
Overcoming the technological challenges may be the easy part in developing net-zero buildings. It's the "cultural and behavioral changes that go beyond architecture" - such as getting used to hot summers without AC - that may take some time to catch on.