There is enough roof space for PV panels at the fairgrounds site to create more electricity than it can use during peak hours of sunlight. This is simple enough. The challenge, however, is to use the most efficient combination of PV panels and other energy creating and saving applications to go entirely off the grid all the time.
Zero Net Carbon, Zero Net Energy
Overview: Concerns for peaking oil production and rising fossil fuels costs are rapidly changing the budgeting priorities for individuals, families, and business of all kinds. In addition to direct energy expenditures, the external costs of carbon emissions are also pressing heavily on the management of planet earth and its economy. Worries about climate change and air pollution underscore the need for clean, renewable, and efficient energy sources.
While a large portion of Lane County's energy comes from renewable, clean hydroelectric generation, there is still need to increase building heating and cooling efficiencies, make use of renewable energy sources, and minimize use of fossil fuels.
One particularly ambitious goal for the Lane County Commons is to have a zero net carbon, net zero energy campus with the capacity for complete off-the-grid operation. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to use a highly integrated, hybrid of renewable energy technologies, high efficiency construction methods, and thoughtful landscape design throughout the campus.
Education is one of the site's primary objectives. Applications of cutting edge alternative technologies will be configured to serve as funcutional demonstrations or to facilitate workshops, with an emphasis on how these technologies can intersect with plant life, livestock, and waste streams in ways that are either energy positive or lead to energy conservation.
Implementation: The creation of a zero carbon, zero net energy facility will be a challenging feat of engineering and planning, as well as a valuable learning experience in itself. Some of the most important strategies for achieving this goal are listed below:
Energy Design Objectives
- Every building on the campus will undergo a complete weatherization review and upgrade. Weather stripping, caulking, and insulation are all low-cost and effective methods of increasing heating and cooling efficiency.
- All existing HVAC systems, lighting, and building usage hours will be reviewed for basic efficiency increases. Vast energy savings can be achieved for low cost through high efficiency electronic carbon dioxide sensors and ventilation controls. These in conjunction with night air flushing and relief fans can save large quantities of energy. Similarly, lighting controls and building usage monitoring can save energy at low cost.
- Building heating and cooling systems will be appraised for the application of environmental landscaping and passive design. The use of trees or other large plants to either shelter a structure from the wind or shade it from the sun will be incorporated into the overall fairgrounds' landscaping scheme. When applicable, existing buildings will be remodeled for passive energy advantages.
- The entire campus will be evaluated for large scale, high-efficiency energy or heating system applications. Ground source heat pumps, district heating systems, and heat recovery methods will be appraised for cost benefits and energy savings.
- All structures will be evaluated for renewable energy applications. Some of these technologies, methane digestion or bio-fuel generation, will dovetail into the Whole System Recycling Program, where some wastes will be diverted to energy creation. Because of the amount of south facing roof space on existing and proposed structures, the use of photovoltaic panels and solar water heaters will be a significant part of achieving a zero net carbon, zero net energy site. (Photovoltaic panels will be one of the largest direct costs of the project. Some portion of this expense could be shared through "panel sponsorship" or special arrangements with the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) or panel manufactures. Expenses could be further reduced by having students from LCC's "Solar Photovoltaic Systems Design and Installation" course install the panels. During the daylight hours of summer months the Lane County Commons could be a net producer of electricity and sell electricity back to EWEB or provide power to the surrounding neighborhood.)
- All new buildings added to the site will be designed to enhance energy profiles, use alternative or renewable energy technology, and incorporate passive design and environmental landscaping. These new buildings will also use and demonstrate the most advanced green building techniques and materials.
- Greenhouses will be featured on the grounds because of their value to gardening workshops and site nursery needs. Where applicable, these greenhouses will be used as solar heat collectors and functional heating devices.