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Education Center Wins 2013 Net-Zero Prize

A $3.2-million project in Maine has been cited by NESEA for achieving net zero energy, as well as for public impact and building innovation

Posted on Apr 4 2013 by Scott Gibson

An 8,200-sq. ft. education center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has won the 2013 Zero Net Energy Building Award from the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland.

The Bosarge Family Education Center was designed by Maclay Architects of Waitsfield, Vermont, and Scott Simon Architects of Portland, Maine. The center was built by Bensonwood of Walpole, New Hampshire. Andy Shapiro of Energy Balance was the energy consultant and Thornton Tomasetti of Portland, Maine, was the LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. consultant.

"Not only did this northernmost building achieve net zeroProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. Calculating net-zero energy can be difficult, particularly in grid-tied renewable energy systems, because of transmission losses in power lines and other considerations. energy in a challenging climate with the most heating degree days, it was also pre-assembled primarily off-site," NESEA said in announcing the award. "The building's impressive airtightness levels are a testament to the builder, Bensonwood of Walpole, New Hampshire, the design team and the process. It also brings great hope to the industry which has relied mostly on custom, site-built and intensively resourced structures in order to achieve such energy performance levels."

In addition to delivering high performance, NESEA said the center also is a "beautifully designed, natural light-filled building that echoed rural Maine forms in a crisp, warm and contemporary way."

The botanical gardens are located in Boothbay in Maine's midcoast region.

The center has a 45-kW photovoltaic system

Features of note:

  • Above grade walls insulated to R-40 with dense-pack cellulose in an 11 7/8-in. I-joist cavity.
  • Roof cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection. of R-60 in 16-in. deep I-joist cavities.
  • Nanogel-filled and triple-glazed skylights.
  • A Mitsubishi air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. for heating and cooling.
  • A total of 237 photovoltaic panels, 135 on the roof and another 102 on the ground, with a total rated capacity of 45 kW. Estimated annual output is 47 kWh.
  • High efficiency lighting.

The Zero Net Energy Building Award recognizes the "best" net-zero building in the Northeast. "By 'best' we mean one that offers not only efficiency but ideally also comfort, affordability, reliability, and elegance," NESEA says. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

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Image Credits:

  1. Robert Benson — Robert Benson Photography
  2. Matthew Cavanaugh

Apr 4, 2013 11:10 AM ET

by Armando Cobo

So in other words, an Education Center of 8,200 sf with R40 walls, R60 Roof, triple glazed windows and high efficiency lighting NEEDS a 45kw system to educate PV Salesman on how to up sale PVs to homeowners?... and then they win an Award and $10K?
Maybe they need to share it with the people in KS to educate them in Sustainability!!!

Apr 4, 2013 11:29 AM ET

Response to Armando Cobo
by Martin Holladay

Maybe I'm being dense, but I'm not sure I get your point. Are you saying that a 45-kW PV system seems to be excessive to meet the needs of an 8,200-square-foot education center?

Apr 4, 2013 12:35 PM ET

Edited Apr 4, 2013 12:51 PM ET.

Big time excessive
by Armando Cobo

I would assume that their building has a pretty good building enclosure and their heating an cooling loads are really low. Add to that lots of natural and efficient lighting, even for NE, I find that 45ks system is at least twice as needed; unless they are installing several Ecars charging stations or getting lots of credits, like that one house a few weeks a go y’all blogged about. If we can do Net-Zero in the SW for about 1w/sf, do I think one needs 4.5w/sf in NE? NO!!!
Solar radiation in NE is about 66% of the SW:

Apr 4, 2013 1:02 PM ET

Edited Apr 4, 2013 1:04 PM ET.

Response to Armando Cobo
by Martin Holladay

First of all, I doubt that you know the types of educational displays or educational equipment included in the building. (I don't.) So it's hard to judge its energy consumption by comparing it to a house.

Second, Maine gets about half the insolation per square foot that New Mexico or Arizona does.

Here is some more information on the Bosarge Family Education Center: "This super efficient building envelope, designed by Maclay Architects and Andy Shapiro of Energy Balance, provides a 50% reduction in building energy usage from code, and results in a modeled energy intensity of 19
kbtu/sf-yr. On average, LEED Platinum construction achieves a 30% reduction in building energy usage. A 45 kW PV array is installed to provide 100% of the energy required to run the building."

Apr 4, 2013 3:52 PM ET

Fair enough.
by Armando Cobo

Beyond Ecar chargers and extra credits, I should have included additional equipment, displays, pools & Jacuzzis, welders, 50 plasma TVs; yet still, NM Solar Radiation averages 6.0 kWh/m2/day and Maine is 4.5 kWh/m2/day or 75% of NM. IMHO, that tells me, a. their building enclosure is not as tight, b. they do have a lot of displays and stuff or c. oversized (leaning to)

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