Zero-net energy buildings are designed to be as energy-efficient as possible and to offset what energy they do use through renewable power generation. Some have already been built, like the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY. The state-of-the art education center and natural wastewater treatment facility boasts not only zero-net energy use due to its solar array, but also zero-net water use. Within the building, a wastewater filtration system called an “Eco-machine” treats and recycles all of the wastewater generated by the Omega Institute’s 23,000 projected annual visitors (the system has a daily capacity of 52,000 gallons). Other sustainable features include fly-ash concrete, a green roof, rain gardens, automatic windows to vent out hot air, recycled content steel throughout, closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling, and locally sourced, chemical-free construction materials. The Omega Center could become the first LEED platinum building to also win the Living Building designation.
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