ACEEE 2012 – Think Bigger: Net Zero Energy Communities

One of the first panel sessions I went to featured a talk by Jeff Harris, of the Alliance to Save Energy.

He covered a lot of ground in defining “net-zero energy,” covering state and federal goals around NZE, detailing many of the appeals of NZE, and then focusing on the potential of NZE communities.

What I found most interesting during his talk was the specific examples of the military’s focus on getting a number of bases to NZE. He noted that there are more than 6 pilot sites targeting ZNE (often used interchangeably with NZE) by 2020. Two of the sites have the additional aggressive goal of being “triple-net-zero,” or net zero energy, water, and waste.

He also mentioned a specific site – Fort Carson – and showed some analysis (I think by the National Renewable Energy Lab, NREL) of what kinds of strategies and systems will be needed to achieve the ZNE goal.

After the session, I found an NREL report online that provides significant detail on the recommendations provided for Fort Carson” “Targeting Net Zero Energy at Fort Carson: Assessment and Recommendations” (link opens a PDF).

Zero Resource at ACEEE Summer Study 2012

I’m spending the week at the 2012 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficient Buildings.

I’ll be sharing interesting information, ideas, and resources with you as the week progresses. Right now, I’m listening to Jeff Harris of The Alliance to Save Energy discuss some of the advantages of thinking about achieving net zero energy goals by looking at the goal at the scale of net-zero energy communities.

Anna’s Links – Water and Solar Energy

I recently wrote a post as an overview of the energy-water nexus. Here are a couple articles that highlight the link between solar projects and water.

Armagosa Valley, Nevada (

Last year, the New York Times ran an article about how a promising solar project in Armagosa Valley,  Nevada, by Solar Millenium ran hard up against western worries about water. The two proposed solar farms would require 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, or 20 percent of the local water available.

The Las Vegas Sun reports on the Skyline Solar facility in Nipton, California, that will use concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV). CPV plants are expected to use much less water than solar thermal plants, which means they may be better candidates for places with lots of sun, but not as much water.

The energy-water nexus generally refers to needing water to produce energy and needing energy to move and filter water; however, it seemed fitting to include a story about using the sun and water to reduce energy use:

 NPR reports that the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina is becoming one of the largest communities to widely install solar hot water panels. FLS Energy owns and installs the panels and then sells the hot water to the base, which means that there are basically only two main actors and decision-makers needed to install  systems on all 900 homes.  (The base is also planning a LEED Platinum fitness center – more info on the base website.)