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Our Plan to Deliver Net Zero Energy Buildings

by Brian Uhlrich, PE, LEED AP, CxA, CEO

DBR has launched an initiative to optimize the operating cost of buildings while working within the Owners’ initial construction budgets. This is a WIN/WIN/WIN scenario for the Owner, Architect, and the MEP Engineer (DBR). The Owner receives a building with a low operating cost ($0 annual cost for energy) and the design team participates in an open, collaborative design process where team members can challenge assumptions and work together to make the best decisions for the project. I think it is safe to assume that most Owners would love to have lower operating costs and most designers would love to participate in a collaborative process that results in a successful project.

In order to maximize the energy efficiency of a building, DBR performs energy simulations beginning at the earliest phases of the design. We don’t ask to be paid for an extra service to perform this modeling, but we do ask to be allowed to participate in early planning, goal-setting, and decision-making. We want to use our experience and our analyses to provide input regarding the massing, orientation, and basic design strategies to optimize energy performance.

Austin ISD – Doss Elementary School Modernization | Austin, Texas

We believe that the time has come for almost all buildings to be made “solar-ready.” For little or no additional cost, we can help the Owner plan for the future installation of solar photovoltaic panels for on-site power generation and design specific infrastructure to make that installation simple. It is our intent to deliver a plan to every Owner describing how solar power can be added to their facility. We will estimate the capacity and cost of a solar power system that can offset their entire utility bill.

Alamo Heights ISD – Photovoltaic System | San Antonio, Texas

In order to evolve from standard industry practices to designing Net Zero Energy buildings, with no additional cost, it is necessary to find cost-mitigating trade-offs. For example, if better performing glazing is specified, the reduced heat gain may result in less air-conditioning demand. The additional cost of the glazing may be offset by purchasing smaller HVAC equipment. These opportunities exist on every building project. It is our responsibility to seek out these opportunities, determine their viability, and work together with the Owner and Architect to implement them.

Read about our Sustainability services 

Brian C. Uhlrich
Chief Executive Officer