On-site solar panels produce more than 100 percent of the annual energy Amazing Space needs. A tight building envelope with thick insulation and energy efficient features make this possible. Visit the mechanical room to see the Energy Recovery Unit, and visit the portal to see how the geothermal system works. Manipulate the outdoor solar display to develop a better understanding of how the sunlight and solar panels interact to produce power.
Net Zero Energy
Net Zero Energy means that a building produces more electricity on-site through renewable sources (like solar, wind, or hydropower) than it consumes. Net Zero Energy is a certification administered by the International Living Future Institute and is part of the 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.