Our Path to Net Zero Begins!

Posted in News — May 11, 2022


Soderstrom Architects has recently signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment. This challenge is sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and by signing we commit to making serious efforts to change our design process so that by 2030, all of our work achieves net zero energy. The intent of the AIA is to promote sustainable design to stop climate change by reducing the amount of fossil fuels used in buildings.

What is Net Zero Design?

Net zero means that the building, over the course of a year, either produces on site as much renewable energy as it uses or else has all of its required energy be in the form of renewable energy provided by the electrical grid. Over the past few years we have completed several net zero projects starting with Oregon Tech’s Village for Sustainable Living and including BPA’s Ross Maintenance Headquarters along with the OSU Extension Service of Clackamas County. With this experience we felt that while it would not be easy, it would be feasible to sign the commitment and work harder for a sustainable world.

How will our design process change?

To be energy efficient and economical, we must first reduce the total energy that the building requires and to do this we will incorporate simple in-house energy modeling as part of our schematic design process. We will also establish energy use targets for every project and guide the design towards achieving those targets throughout all phases of the design process. This will not be an optional added service. Rather, it will become our standard design approach.

Incremental Target Goals

To gradually transition to net zero by 2030, the AIA proposes intermediate targets. For 2021, the target is to have buildings show by energy modeling that they will use 80% less energy compared to a baseline of ASHRAE 90.1-2007.

For interiors projects in existing buildings, where the energy use of the building has already been fixed, the AIA has established a process for calculating lighting power density and comparing it to a baseline of ASHRAE 90.1-2007.

Our First Test Project is Soderstrom’s New Home!

After over 30 years in the Albers Mill Building, our office will soon be moving to 1331 NW Lovejoy, owned by Unico properties. The space is undergoing a beautiful renovation designed by our staff. This is our first project to test our new 2030 commitment. We have developed, with the assistance of Sara Fisher of Lam Partners Lighting Design, a new lighting system with a lighting power density of .47 watts/SF. This is a 53% savings over the baseline so we are off to a great start!

Although the LPD is great, there is also so much daylight that the daylighting controls probably won’t have the lights turned on very often. As the photo shows, we are ready to have the lighting installed.