Bank Reaches Net Zero Energy Consumption through Collaboration with PNNL
Fact or fiction: a building can create as much energy as it uses? Fact. Through the Department of Energy's Commercial Building Partnerships (CBP) program, PNC Bank partnered with PNNL to achieve a zero energy branch in Florida. After opening in January 2013, the net zero bank branch exceeded expectations on all fronts.
Moving Energy Efficiency from Good to Great
Back in 2003, PNC decided that their new bank branches should meet LEED requirements. The new "signature branch" low energy designs achieved a 30% reduction target over the standard, but PNC wanted to improve upon that by creating a net zero energy branch.
Working with technical and analytical experts from PNNL’s Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings division, energy consumption was reduced through the use of energy efficient insulation, fenestration, daylighting, light fixtures and controls, HVAC units, and plug loads. The largest area of savings proved to be the plug loads, which were managed through sensor-controlled power strips for nonessential equipment and by scheduled remote turn-off for computers. The innovative remote turn-off software utilizes one master computer that controls the rest of the fleet – forcing them to hibernate from 12-5am and "wake up" for software updates.
The plug load changes helped the building achieve energy reduction goals. To bring the building to a net zero design, ample photovoltaic panels were used, allowing for the building to more than make up for the amount of energy used.
To learn more about the collaboration between PNC and PNNL, read the article in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ High Performance Building Magazine, winter 2015 issue. Authored by PNNL researchers Bing Liu and Rahul Athalye and PNC Bank’s Lawrence Miltenberger, it provides a more detailed look into the design and implementation of the net zero bank building.