Maryland >> When you visit the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter, you’ll pass a sign that reads, "Conservation Is Our Mission." Chapter members demonstrate their commitment to conservation through projects on the chapter’s property and in community outreach efforts. The chapter’s newest project has a goal of zero – energy purchase, that is.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a "net zero" building (also called a "zero energy" building) produces enough renewable energy to match its annual energy consumption. Benefits include lower environmental impacts as well as lower operating costs. But we’ll let you hear about that directly from chapter members working on this project.
One fine and urgent goal for our chapter is eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels. Applying sustainable and renewable energy technologies is affordable, achievable, and responsible. The simple goal of achieving "net zero" will eliminate electrical and propane bills and set in place an exemplary environmental standard.
Our chapter’s ad hoc Committee for Net Zero formed after a tour of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s headquarters in Annapolis – the first building to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – almost one year ago. Chapter members who attended the tour were stunned and energized by the obvious success of applied technologies in use there for almost two decades. Most impressive of all was how everything about the building and site brought our attention quickly to the organization’s conservation mission. Why not bring this obvious and achievable approach to bear on our facilities?
Since then, committee members have collected reports and white papers, sponsored talks by experts to the Board and chapter members, interviewed a professional planner, and identified sources of funding. The committee continues to expand the boundaries of the net zero discussion to include a comprehensive master planning initiative to look at all chapter facilities. Through that process, we will also expand our understanding of how we can actively care for our environment and send out a strong ripple effect to positively inform and influence others.
Tom Shiner, FAIA
ad hoc Committee for Net Zero
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter