Amazing Space achieves Net Zero energy

Amazing Space achieves Net Zero energy

Between March 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018 Amazing Space’s solar panels produced 145.370 MWh of electricity. During that same time the building used 111.440 MWh of electricity, leaving an excess of 23.90 MWh. 38% of the solar production came from the roof-mounted panels and 62% came from the ground-mounted panels. 

That means that just the excess energy generated at Amazing Space offsets any one of these items:

  • 8 Barrels of Oil
  • 94 Tons of Coal
  • 8,1652.55 Cubic Feet of Natural Gas
  • 59 Tons of TNT
  • 4 Cords of Oak firewood, which is 12,773 pounds of wood

Net Zero Energy means that a building produces on-site at least as much energy as it consumes, through renewable sources (like solar, wind, or hydropower). Net Zero Energy is a certification administered by the International Living Future Institute and is part of the Living Building Challenge certification. Net Zero Energy certification is an important milestone on our path to Living Building Challenge certification.

Indian Creek Nature Center is the first commercial building in Iowa to pursue Net Zero Energy certification. One other building is currently under certification review, and it is the headquarters of Design Engineers – the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design contractor selected by ICNC to design Amazing Space. They began to seek Net Zero Energy certification after working on ICNC’s project.

Three other Iowa buildings produce more energy than they use, but are not pursuing certification. These are the Market 1 building in Des Moines, and The Sky Factory and The Sustainable Living Center, both in Fairfield.

In 2015, Indian Creek Nature Center (ICNC) and Alliant Energy formed a long-term partnership to research the effectiveness of solar energy as a grid-connected generation source and to educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. This partnership allows Alliant Energy (and other utilities) to have accurate data for how to implement solar energy in the communities it serves.

For fifteen years, ICNC will lease ground and roof space to Alliant Energy for the installation of solar panels. ICNC pays standard utility rates for the electricity and does not get paid for energy generated due to the specific nature of this agreement. ICNC and the broader community benefit from this partnership through enhanced solar energy education and research.

Alliant Energy has installed four different types of solar panel mounts:

  • Fixed roof
  • Fixed ground mount
  • Single-axis tracking ground mount
  • Dual-axis tracking ground mount

ICNC participated in Iowa Power & Light’s Commercial New Construction program to build energy efficiency in at every step of the construction process; the building was modeled to be 52% more efficient than if built to standard energy code.

The Nature Center is excited to be a leader in energy efficiency, modeling the way for others to follow and fulfilling our mission to create a more sustainable future.

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