ZMM has been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council since 2002 and has had experience with the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Several ZMM projects, including the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center, Joint Interagency Training and Education Center (JITEC), the New Residence Hall (Roanoke College), the Wood County Justice Center, and Huntington East Middle School have achieved LEED certification.

Many of our clients have chosen to pursue LEED certification for their project. Schools, the military, and government agencies all receive public money and recognize the importance of third-party certification in justifying building expenditures and documented energy savings. We encourage and provide leadership to all clients who are considering LEED certification, and have developed a custom spreadsheet that allows the design team and our clients an easy method to track progress, responsibilities, and requirements for each credit in the system. From the initial LEED charrette and brainstorming session, through final documentation, ZMM is involved every step of the way. Our staff of LEED Accredited Professionals includes many of the firm’s principals, architects, and engineers – a fully integrated team. In addition to LEED certification, ZMM professionals have experience with a variety of sustainability and energy-efficiency standards, including: the WELL Building Standard, AIA 2030, and ASHRAE’s High Performance and Advanced Energy Design Guides.

Over the last several years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to design more efficient buildings, as it has been demonstrated that buildings are the primary energy consumers in the country. This recognition has led to a focus on the design of net zero buildings. While there are a variety of definitions for a net zero building, the organization that establishes the energy standards that are referenced in our building codes, the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), defines a net zero building as “a building which, on an annual basis, uses no more energy than is provided by the building’s on-site renewable energy sources.” Simply stated, it is a building that annually makes more energy than it uses. The Federal Government has taken a leadership role in advancing the net zero standard with a mandate that all new federal buildings that are entering the planning process in 2020 or thereafter be "designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030.” Several organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), are supporting the 2030 Challenge which states that “all new buildings, developments, and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral by 2030.”

Achieving this level of reduced energy consumption required to develop a net zero building can be accomplished with a variety of strategies, including:

  • Maximizing the Building Orientation/Massing
  • Harvesting Daylight
  • Designing and Constructing an Efficient Building Envelope
  • Designing Efficient Mechanical Systems
  • Utilizing Efficient Lighting (LEDs)
  • Commission the Building Systems
  • Work with Building Occupants and Maintenance Staff to Minimize Energy Use

Once the building has been designed to reduce energy consumption, the second requirement to develop a net zero building is to install a renewable energy system on-site that generates as much energy as the building will utilize per year.

Regardless of any stated sustainability or energy-efficiency goals, a good first step when planning a new facility is understanding current energy use, which allows ZMM to assist by establishing specific design targets to achieve maximum system efficiencies with current technology. Establishing these goals early in the design process allows our clients to benefit from advancements in renewable energy efficiency (and cost), with a goal of ultimately designing the most energy-efficient and net zero facilities without sacrificing indoor air quality or thermal comfort. Whether our client elects to develop a LEED certified building, a net zero facility, or decides to simply focus on reducing energy consumption, ZMM welcomes the opportunity to help improve the efficiency of the built environment in West Virginia and Virginia.