Do all new and existing industrial buildings have the ability to produce as much energy as they consume? A Swedish company believes that’s the case as they’ve introduced a new concept that uses a building’s thermal mass with optimized utilities and attaches solar panels to the structure. The combination aims to cut energy use all the way down to zero percent.
The concept of a net-zero building is not new. For example, a couple in Oregon met the requirements of the Living Building Challenge in their dream home by installing such features as solar panels, a hydronic floor system for heat, and harvesting rainwater. However, most net zero options were limited to new structures as most of these features required a complete overhaul on existing buildings.
There’s already many businesses that could optimize their buildings to cut back on a significant amount of energy. Automated systems like light dimming and heat/cooling control aren’t even activated. It’s estimated that one-third of the United States’ energy usage could be cut back if every building had these turned on.
In similar fashion, Innenco is using what existing buildings feature in order to create net zero energy consumption. The Malmo-based company, which means “Innovate Energy Concept,” adds integrated pipes into the frame of the structure. By doing this, they’re able to achieve up to six times greater efficiency at heating and cooling the building.
Adding these pipes would cut back on roughly 85 percent on energy consumption alone. There would also be no compromise in comfort -- the building would be operating at 72 degrees Farenheit year-round. To reach the full 100 percent, Innenco’s own Quantum Solar Panels are added to the building.
“This makes an investment in solar cells much lower than a traditional system, and we can get net zero for a really cost-efficient investment,” Jonathan Karlsson, Founder and CEO of Innenco, told Inhabitat. “Our vision is to create possibilities to make new net zero constructions in an efficient way, giving everyone the capability to do so.”
Innenco’s bold claims come after installing their system throughout the world, such as locally in Sweden, Spain, and the Netherlands. According to some examples on their website, apartment buildings have seen a 62 percent energy savings, offices are at 67 percent, and schools are at 60 percent. The highest energy savings were seen with industrial buildings at 85 percent, and Karlsson believes that “their concept could translate well to skyscrapers.”
Will the concept hit the United States? They’re hoping so, and that would continue the push of improving energy efficiency around the country. Innenco’s system provides roughly 70 percent energy savings overall, and to generate net-zero energy in industrial buildings and skyscrapers would be a crowning achievement.