Dana Anderson has an architectural design practice committed to Net Zero Energy Building design by using Passive House design standards.  His net zero designs are innovative, sustainable and socially responsible and become the foundation of the built environment and our culture.  He explores a spirit of curiosity and learning toward solving everyday problems and addressing community goals. He pursues an architecture that is thoughtful, practical and economical, emphasizing context and a client’s aspirations.

Dana has many years of experience designing single homes, multi-family apartment complexes, and student residence halls for Colleges and Universities.  He is a LEED AP and has been involved in the USGBC for many years and a passionate contributor to the Residential Green Building Committee for over two years.   The RGBC is contributing to the future of green housing in Massachusetts by emphasizing Net Zero Energy, renewable energy sources, and Passive House design standards.

Below, Dana provides a closer look into Net Zero Energy design and why it should be valued.

The next Wave: Net Zero Energy buildings are raising the bar with technology, innovation, and environmental culture.  

Since ancient times, people have designed buildings for their local climate, taking advantage of natural daylight, prevailing winds, regional materials, unique planning and aesthetic characteristics, and, common construction techniques. Today, net zero Design is based on these same principals, but is combined with enhanced energy conservation techniques – super insulation, advanced air tight products, state of the art mechanical systems, energy performance design tools, and renewable energy systems.

Net zero design yields long-term durable, comfortable, environmentally sound buildings. Advances in computer technologies are transforming our building industry with new design and analysis tools by greatly improving the ability to predict building energy performance.  As these tools continue to be refined and their use become more commonplace, net zero design will emerge as a logical approach to building design in the 21st Century.

Incorporating energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable green design features into building design will become the top priority for architects and engineers. A net zero designed building reduces both resource depletion and the adverse environmental impacts of pollution generated by energy production; it is considered to be the cornerstone of future sustainable design requirements.  

A Net Zero Energy building design is not the result of applying one or more isolated technologies. Rather, it is an integrated whole-building process that requires advocacy and action on the part of the design team throughout the entire project. Moreover, net zero design does not necessarily have to result in increased construction costs. Indeed, one of the key approaches to Net Zero Energy design is to invest in the building’s form and enclosure (e.g., windows, walls) so that the heating, cooling, and lighting loads are reduced, and in turn, smaller, less costly heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are required.

A Net Zero Energy design process begins when the occupant’s requirements are assessed and a project budget is established. A proposed building is carefully sited and its programmed spaces are arranged to reduce energy use for heating, cooling, and lighting. Its heating and cooling loads are minimized by designing standard building elements— windows, walls, and roofs—so that they control, collect, and store the sun’s energy to optimum advantage. Finally, by incorporating building-integrated photovoltaics into the facility, some conventional building envelope materials can be replaced by energy-producing technologies. For example, photovoltaics can be integrated into window, wall, or roof assemblies, and spandrel glass, skylights, and roof become both part of the building skin and a source of power generation.

By designing Net Zero Energy buildings, it is important to appreciate that the underlying purpose of the building is neither to save—nor use—energy. Rather, the building is to serve the occupants and their activities. An understanding of building occupancy and activities leads to designs that not only save energy and reduce costs, but improve occupant comfort. As such, net zero designs will be a vital contribution toward healthy environments while reducing global warming.

Dana Anderson

Dana Anderson Architects

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