The Oregon Zoo recently opened their renewably powered Education Center, building on an exciting trend in Zero Energy project development in the Pacific Northwest. The $17 million dollar project features 760 solar photovoltaic modules, a 10,000-gallon rainwater cistern, and is designed to operate at net zero energy. The Education Center also recently won the Energy Trust of Oregon’s (ETO) High-Performance Building Award for new construction, and is registered for Zero Energy Certification.

The Education Center received key support from Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Renewable Development Fund to install its large rooftop solar array, and also qualified for incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero program. ETO’s program offers financial incentives to cover the Zero Energy program’s registration and certification fees. These fees cover third-party verification of the project’s energy performance, as well as help to fund resources for residential and commercial solar projects.

The project team is a shining example of environmental stewardship, collaboration, and innovative design, and includes Fortis Construction, Opsis Architecture, Formations, Catena Consulting Engineers, KPFF Consulting Engineers and PAE Consulting Engineers.

Zero Energy Certification registered projects are eligible to receive direct-project support throughout the certification process, which requires 12-consecutive months of energy performance at net zero, without the use of combustion. It is also common for project teams to register as early as the conceptual design phase, in order to use ILFI’s programs as a framework for design, and to take advantage of ILFI’s energy program staff support throughout the certification process. Once a project’s performance period is complete, a third-party auditor is assigned for verification and certification of Zero Energy performance.

Written By

Jack Newman

Jack Newman is the Net Zero Energy Manager at the International Living Future Institute. Focusing on the development of global distributed renewable energy projects, equitable access to educational resources, and the implementation of Net Zero Energy programs and building standards, Jack is committed to revolutionizing the global renewable energy industry.