Healthy Zero Energy Buildings (HZEB)

Commercial Buildings

The commercial building sector is an important part of our highly organized and complex society. Commercial buildings provide basic shelter and support, as well as enabling communication and storage of information for our economic activities. The conditions within buildings are crucial for the activities they support, and for the occupants who conduct the work.

Zero Energy Buildings

State and federal efforts are currently underway that will significantly change the way in which buildings are designed, built, commissioned, operated, maintained and retro-commissioned. For example, California AB32 mandates a reduction of carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. The California Public Utility Commission's (CPUC) Big Bold Initiatives mandates Zero Energy Buildings in new construction by 2030. Building ventilation is an important limiting factor, possibly even become the primary limiting factor in the extent to which California energy consumption can be reduced to meet the climate change challenge.

Building Ventilation

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) of commercial buildings represents 29% of their total on-site energy use, and thus represent an important target for energy savings. Ventilation standards for commercial building are intended to ensure that sufficient air exchange with outdoors is provided so that indoor environmental conditions are adequate for the health and comfort of human occupants. The expectation is that these conditions will allow building occupants to live and work to their full potential, facilitating performance and associated productivity. Thus, understanding the amount of ventilation needed by the building occupants is a crucial component of California's future energy and carbon strategy.

Ventilation Standards

Current ventilation rate tables published in standards, such as American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) standard 62.1, and in codes such as California Title 24, are based on a mixture of odor control research conducted by Yaglou et al. in the 1930s, rules of thumb, and negotiations made by competing interests such as industry, government agencies, and health advocates. Although numerous studies in the last three decades have addressed many aspects of ventilation, indoor environmental quality, and occupant needs, these efforts have lacked the scale and organization of a systematic effort to produce scientifically defensible information on acceptable ventilation rate.