A building that may be the first zero net energy built in the Northeastern United States is getting attention from local press and state officials, as the Poughkeepsie Journal reports today.
A 4,100-square foot warehouse in upstate New York uses solar energy, geothermal heating and cooling and other technology promoted by its owner, Hudson Valley Clean Energy, to produce as much energy as it consumes.
Because of the state's net metering law, the company sells back energy when it produces more than it needs, and receives a credit it can apply on days when it consumes more than it produces.
The building's yearly energy expense is just $266 -- the connection charge from the local utility.
Net metering -- which is increasingly available not only to commercial buildings, but government buildings and individual homes -- is one strategy to decentralize the power grid, and reduce demand on polluting power plants. If each home produced as much energy as it consumed -- through solar arrays, geothermal heating and cooling systems, passive solar construction and other techniques -- the need for coal-fired power plants would decrease.
Coal is the most highly polluting fossil fuel, accounting for the biggest share of the U.S. contribution to global warming, as well as significant air pollution that causes smog, acid rain and toxic mercury contamination of fish.
Reducing the energy demand from buildings is particularly important as the solution to pollution from the transportation sector is believed to be in electrification. That will mean electric cars will be draining electricity off the power grid in the coming years, so the less demand from buildings -- and the more energy they can produce themselves -- the better.
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