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Research Papers

Thriving in a Net-Zero Office—Looking Beyond Energy to Create Quality in Human Work Spaces

[+] Author and Article Information
Robert Hutchinson

Rocky Mountain Institute,
1820 Folsom Street,
Boulder, CO 80302
e-mail: hutch@rmi.org

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received May 1, 2016; final manuscript received October 11, 2016; published online November 10, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Patrick E. Phelan.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 139(1), 011004 (Nov 10, 2016) (6 pages) Paper No: SOL-16-1201; doi: 10.1115/1.4035062 History: Received May 01, 2016; Revised October 11, 2016

Better energy performance (i.e., net-zero or carbon neutral) is not the only dimension where better buildings quality is needed. It may just be the easiest one to measure. Three interrelated dimensions—productivity and its cousins, health and comfort—are the next in line. The building of the future will bring far more intelligence—and quality—to those dimensions, in order to compete for occupants and potentially to help to pay for the efficiency needed on the energy side. The economics of productivity and health gains or losses can dwarf—in upside or downside—what happens on the energy front. This paper describes specific drivers of health and productivity and comfort, and discusses their use in the design and occupancy of Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI’s) new net-zero building in Colorado as a test case to look at design and occupant engagement issues. The paper details the most important design and behavior tradeoffs encountered, and discusses paths to effectively resolving them and accelerating change.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The RMI IC pushed extremely hard to minimize all kinds of energy use

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