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ASHRAE's new global headquarters will operate at net-zero-energy (NZE) performance following the recent installation of a large photovoltaic (PV) system.
“Completing the installation of our PV system marks a tangible milestone for ASHRAE that will demonstrate to others how to successfully move on the path to NZE status,” says Mick Schwedler, P.E., ASHRAE president. “This project is special because it’s a testament to ASHRAE’s leadership and commitment to sustainability and showcases innovative built environment technology. We are extremely proud of this important accomplishment.”
In January 2020, ASHRAE began a $20 million renovation project on its new global headquarters building, located in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Built in 1978, the existing 66,770-square-foot building on 11 acres became a demonstration project intended to prove the economic viability of a NZE operation.
“An important part of getting to NZE is the low energy consumption of the building (low EUI of 21 kBTU per square foot per year) – while maintaining excellent ventilation and IAQ,” said Ginger Scoggins, P.E., fellow ASHRAE. “The installation of the PV panel system is a great of example of how to reduce grid-energy consumption and greenhouse emissions in an older, existing building to create a sustainable and innovative environment.”
The 332 kilowatt (kW) project was a combination of three sub-arrays:
"The goal of the project was to pursue a design that minimized the environmental footprint on the site, while trying to optimize the use of the building’s roof and adjacent areas that did not involve land disturbance or removal of established trees,” said Chris McMahan, commercial project manager.
The total system size had to be constrained within the maximum cap set by the local electric utility provider for customers wishing to interconnect through the monthly netting program.
PV systems such as ASHRAE’s system offer approximately 25 years of performance. The addition of power optimizers, which are small devices that sit behind the panels and are paired to the SolarEdge inverters, mitigate the effect of partial shading, increase safety, and allow ASHRAE to monitor performance down to each individual solar panel.