Brock Environmental Center – Yet another year beyond Net-Zero Energy operation

January 17, 2018

Congratulations to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) for another year of exceeding their net-zero energy goal. After its completion in late 2014, 2017 was the third year in a row for CBF to operate their Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach with generating more on-site renewable energy than it consumes. This is even more remarkable since the net-zero energy operation was achieved in the very first year of operation. In 2017, the Brock Environmental Center consumed 55,695 kWh of electricity, while generating 95,977 kWh of electricity by wind and solar energy – a surplus of 72%!

Baumann Consulting, as the energy consultant and energy modeler for this project predicted an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 52.0 kWh/m2/yr (16.5 kBtu/ft2/yr). This is within 15% of the 59.9 kWh/m2/yr (19.0 kBtu/ft2/yr) where the building was operating in 2017, prior to adding renewable energy generation. The actual energy consumption and production during the first year of operation was within 1% of the predictive model. Throughout a highly iterative and integrative process, Baumann Consulting used multiple simulation tools, such as EnergyPlus and IESVE during the various design phases to support design decisions by:

  • Analyzing building enclosure performance – justifying wall and roof assemblies with R-35 and R-50 as well as triple pane windows
  • Making a case for natural ventilation
  • Supporting HVAC system selection – up to a point where pumps and LED lighting were identified as the main energy consumer in this high-performance design and further optimized
  • Developing and improving control sequences for mechanical and lighting systems

The project, designed by SmithGroupJJR achieved Living Building Challenge certification (2016), as well as LEED-NC Platinum certification (2015), and many other awards for its outstanding architectural and environmental design. CBF is committed to showcasing the new Center’s sustainable attributes and publishes its daily and historic usage on an online Building Dashboard.

Brock Environmental Center


Additional Link: Whole Building Design Guide Case Study