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ASHRAE's new global headquarters will operate at net-zero-energy (NZE) performance following the recent installation of a large photovoltaic (PV) system.

2021/22 ASHRAE president, Mick Schwedler, said completing the installation of its PV system marks a tangible milestone for ASHRAE that will demonstrate to others how to successfully move on the path to NZE status.

“This project is special because it’s a testament to ASHRAE’s leadership and commitment to sustainability and showcases innovative built environment technology. We are extremely proud of this important accomplishment,” Schwedler said.

In January 2020, ASHRAE began a $20 million renovation project on its new global headquarters building, located in the popular tech-based corridor at 180 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

Built in 1978, the existing 66,770 ft2 building on 11 acres of land became a demonstration project intended to prove the economic viability of a NZE operation.

“An important part of getting to NZE is the low energy consumption of the building (low EUI of 21 kBTU/sf/year) – while maintaining excellent ventilation and IAQ,” according to ASHRAE treasurer, Ginger Scoggins.

“The installation of the PV panel system is a great of example of how to reduce grid-energy consumption and greenhouse emissions in an older, existing building to create a sustainable and innovative environment,” Scoggins said.

The 332kW project was a combination of three sub-arrays: 187kW ballasted rooftop; 65kW ground mount on a south facing hill adjacent to the building (allowing narrower spacing between rows and thus higher energy density); 81kW ground mount situated in an unused section of their parking lot.

Commercial project manager, Chris McMahan, said the goal of the project was to pursue a design that minimized the environmental footprint on the site, while trying to optimize the use of the building’s roof and adjacent areas that did not involve land disturbance or the removal of established trees.

The total system size had to be constrained within the maximum cap set by the local electric utility provider for customers wishing to interconnect through the monthly netting program.

PV systems such as the ASHRAE’s offer approximately 25 years of performance. The addition of power optimizers, which are small devices that sit behind the panels and are paired to the SolarEdge inverters, mitigate the effect of partial shading, increase safety, and allow ASHRAE to monitor performance down to each individual solar panel.

The business development director of project partner, Creative Solar, Cesar Prieto, said this type of investment is good for the bottom line.

“When you consider the total system cost and the very little maintenance associated with it, the levelized cost of energy ends up being around four times lower than the retail rate from the utility,” Prieto said.

Buildings classified as NZE consumes less energy over the course of a year than is generated onsite through renewable energy resources.

Founded in 1894, ASHRAE is a global professional society committed to serve humanity by advancing the arts and sciences of heating ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and their allied fields.

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