Case Study: Zero Energy

CMTA Energy Solutions Corporate Office

CMTA, Inc.Louisville, Kentucky

The First WELL Certified and Zero Energy Building in the United States

CMTA is a firm that has built our reputation on research and data-driven design. When it was time to build a new office building, we decided to go beyond high-performance design techniques to engineer a building showcasing both health and wellness strategies and Zero Energy design for our own employees.

The Challenges

  • Deliver a Zero Energy office building with challenging net-metering state laws
  • Design and Achieve a WELL Certified Office Building
  • Create a built environment that provides real world operating data to CMTA engineers and clients
Created with Sketch.

This building is designed to provide ‘real world’ operating data to CMTA engineers. This will enable our engineers to demonstrate the effectiveness of our system design decisions to clients. Created with Sketch.

Tony Hans

CMTA Vice President and National Director of Sustainable Projects - Real World Operating Data

The Solutions

From the beginning, CMTA designed the new two-story, 25,000 SF corporate office building with environmental and occupant health and wellness in mind. This project was recently certified as WELL Gold, making it the first Zero Energy, WELL Certified Building in Kentucky. As an early adopter of the International Well Building Institute standards, CMTA included numerous features in the design and construction of the building intended to affect the health and experience of employees working there positively. Special features included glare reduction, daylight management, and LED lighting with a color temperature of 4000K to support the circadian rhythm of employees. 

The building was also designed to provide ‘real-world’ data for CMTA engineers to easily explain and demonstrate the consistent success of our Building Science Leadership approach and system design process. 

As an early adopter of the WELL Standard, our goal was first to meet the preconditions and then determine the features that fit our core values. Many features of WELL can be applied to the project with little to no cost impact. Achieving WELL is affordable!

To meet WELL criteria and reduce costs, our team sought an alternative compliance path (AAP) for glare reduction through building orientation, space flexibility, and site. These features eliminated the Prescriptive Feature 56 requirement for window view shading and daylight management on the north façade. This provided cost savings and eliminated shading not required to improve the quality of the space. 

The lighting systems in the building are designed to support the project's energy and wellness goals while improving the work environment and complementing the architectural design. LED lighting with a color temperature of 4000K is designed to support circadian rhythm and reduce glare.

CMTA carefully documented the cost of targeted WELL credits to demonstrate to clients how to pursue WELL in high-performance buildings cost-effectively. Because the firm managed the entire WELL process, the staff is better able to communicate to clients and building owners the benefits of WELL and how to accomplish WELL building certification in the most cost-effective manner.

A 108kW net-metered roof-mounted photovoltaic system was installed to offset the energy use and make this office a Zero Energy building.

Building Science Leadership

First 30: This design approach allowed the design team to creatively and collaboratively achieve innovative solutions at an early stage. Internal charrettes on energy and Wellness were expanded to all the Stakeholders to create an integrated high-performance design. 

Data-Driven Design: We utilized past performance for energy consumption in CMTA office designs to inform the design process and conservation measures to implement. Models are great, but they don’t provide evidence to evaluate our success and improve our designs.

Occupant Health and Wellness: Our commitment to health and wellness is demonstrated in three words, “WELL Gold Certified” through the International Well Building Institute (IWBI). This project, among other CMTA projects, proves that our buildings are moving beyond energy efficiency to lead the industry’s focus on improving occupant health and wellness.

National Energy Goals: CMTA’s commitment to Zero Energy is achieved in our Energy Solutions Corporate Office. We’re proud of our Zero Energy leadership, and we embrace the future challenge of researching new energy efficiency initiatives.

Research: CMTA studied the WELL credits and determined the proper path for WELL certification that was both affordable and effective for providing employees an environment that improves productivity, helps with recruitment and retention. CMTA's engineers are creating new ways to enhance environments, lower total cost of ownership, improve efficiencies and maximize occupant wellness.

Design Innovations: As a national leader in high-performance design, CMTA successfully implemented the first Zero Energy and WELL Gold Certified building in the State of Kentucky. CMTA's engineers are creating new ways to enhance environments, lower total cost of ownership, improve efficiencies, and maximize occupant wellness.

The Results

The CMTA Energy Solutions Corporate Office achieved a new milestone in high-performance buildings. It is the first Zero Energy and WELL Gold Certified building in the country. Many CMTA projects have been Zero Energy certified or have incorporated WELL features, but this was our first opportunity to achieve both. We wanted our engineers and clients to have a real-world example of the impact that a Zero Energy, WELL Certified building can have.

CMTA Energy Solutions Office Consumption vs. Production

What does this data mean?
Consumption: Energy used by the building
Production: Energy generated by the building