In the fight against climate change, portfolios of buildings are a key area where society needs success. The Akron Zoo recognized this and set out to understand what a zero-energy campus would mean. How would the Akron Zoo install renewable energy, reduce existing facility energy consumption, and continue to expand and renovate towards this goal?
The Akron Zoo hired Go Sustainable Energy to perform a zero energy study of the campus in 2011. This was a pioneering step for the Zoo to undertake at the time.
We crawled through every building on campus during the day and at night to observe how energy is consumed. We interviewed a wide variety of stakeholders in administration, facilities, animal keepers, etc. to understand their diverse needs. Using this information, we generated a detailed building-by-building campus energy use breakdown and identified 40 efficiency recommendations that made sense for the campus with positive life-cycle economics.
Our efforts in 2011-2012 found that the Akron Zoo could technically and economically make significant progress towards zero energy, as summarized in the following figure:
In a 2015 update to the study, based on technology advancements, their on-site generation potential had measurably increased.
The Go Sustainable Energy and Akron Zoo teams were compelled by these results and published a paper to the 2012 ACEEE Summer Study of Energy Efficiency in Buildings. This study and the publication of this paper have forced our team into a zero energy mindset as we engage other portfolios.
To date, the Akron Zoo has implemented over $500,000 in energy efficiency opportunities with good economic returns, they have pursued deeper energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy, and have embedded a zero energy mindset into their decision making as they continue their journey towards zero energy.
Energy Auditor, Zero Energy Consultant
ClientThe Akron Zoo
Charles Schreier, PE
Gregory Raffio, PE, LEED AP BD+C