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Why Are We So Focused On Energy?

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

Since DBR embarked on our 50-Zero initiative to deliver Net Zero Energy buildings, we have been asked “Why are you focused on energy? What about water conservation? What about health and wellness?” In response, DBR promotes better performing buildings that provide healthy, comfortable environments for people, reduce negative impacts on the environment, and result in greater value for property owners. As specialists in building systems engineering, many facets of building design, construction, and operations are within our range of influence, but energy is the one area where we have an opportunity to make the greatest contribution toward mitigating climate change. The EPA recommends: “Saving energy and using cleaner energy sources is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases and help combat climate change.” (1) And climate change impacts everyone, whether they work or live in a building we’ve designed or not. In fact, we know that climate change will have the greatest impact on low-income and marginalized communities. (2) Therefore, we have identified Net Zero Energy as the next step in our journey.

Example of Solar Radiation Study, DBR

According to Architecture 2030: “The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change . . .” (3) A broad range of organizations and design professionals have adopted the goal of eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from building construction and operation, the most prevalent of which is carbon dioxide. The carbon footprint of buildings includes embodied carbon, emissions resulting from the manufacture and transportation of building materials; direct emissions, carbon dioxide released due to building operations, such as burning fossil fuels in boilers; and indirect emissions, which include the production and delivery of utilities as well as vehicle emissions related to building operation. All of these CO2 sources are culprits in the warming of our atmosphere. All of these emissions must be targeted and reduced to mitigate the effects of climate change.

MEP engineers can have a direct impact on some portions of a building’s CO2 emissions, including direct emissions from fossil fuel use and indirect emissions associated with the production and delivery of energy and water. The greatest single source of carbon emissions associated with most buildings today is energy consumption. DBR has committed to reducing the energy consumption of buildings and planning for renewable energy production to achieve annual net energy demands of zero. Zero net energy consumption results in significantly reduced CO2 emissions and is an important step in our journey toward true Net Zero buildings with a carbon footprint of zero.

So, we are starting with energy. DBR is committed to applying innovative strategies to reduce the energy demand of new buildings and existing buildings. We are using modeling tools to demonstrate the most cost-effective approaches to improve building envelopes, take advantage of natural daylight, and implement renewable energy generation. Net Zero Energy is the next step in our journey toward regenerative buildings that improve the world around us.


  2. USGCRP, 2018: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II[Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 1515 pp. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.

Project Photo

Wildwood Corporate Centre II | Kirksey Architecture | LEED Silver | Spring, Texas

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Brian C. Uhlrich
Chief Executive Officer