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UCSF Net-Zero Student Housing

Weber Thompson

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Project Description

Designed for the Architecture at Zero design competition, 'Conspicuous Consumption' is all about encouraging creative and feasible approaches to zero net energy (ZNE) building, specifically for mixed-use student housing on a site on the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

A zero net site energy building project produces at least as much energy as it uses over a year when accounted for at the site level. Typically, net-zero is hard to achieve in large-scale residential buildings; design that empowers occupants to measure and manage their own energy consumption can have a significant impact on overall building energy use.

Weber Thompson partnered with energy consultants at WSP Group to empirically demonstrate that the design would meet ZNE. The design achieved reduced building loads through a combination of tactics including placement on the site, programming, passive heating and cooling strategies, a heat recovery system, shading devices and photovoltaic panels. The design reaches ZNE through user engagement and highly visible, easy-to-use integrated feedback systems.
The budget for net-zero energy is tracked and displayed in real time. At an individual level, a smart phone app aids in tracking; at a building level, dynamic color LED lighting highlights the top performing floors; and at a campus level the three buildings’ relative performance is displayed, encouraging competition and conversation. As a result, students and their families actively manage their energy with continual feedback.
The competition was presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) on a site at the University of California, San Francisco Mission Bay campus.
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