The effect of floor to area ratio parameter on net zero commercial buildings located in Phoenix, Arizona
The building sector is one of the main energy consumers within the USA. Energy demand by this sector continues to increase because new buildings are being constructed faster than older ones are retired. Increase in energy demand, in addition to a number of other factors such as the finite nature of fossil fuels, population growth, building impact on global climate change, and energy insecurity and independence has led to the increase in awareness towards conservation through the design of energy efficient buildings. Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB), a highly efficient building that produces as much renewable energy as it consumes annually, provides an effective solution to this global concern. The intent of this thesis is to investigate the relationship of an important factor that has a direct impact on NZEB: Floor / Area Ratio (FAR). Investigating this relationship will help to answer a very important question in establishing NZEB in hot-arid climates such as Phoenix, Arizona. The question this thesis presents is: “How big can a building be and still be Net Zero?” When does this concept start to flip and buildings become unable to generate the required renewable energy to achieve energy balance? The investigation process starts with the analysis of a local NZEB, DPR Construction Office, to evaluate the potential increase in building footprint and FAR with respect to the current annual Energy Use Intensity (EUI). Through the detailed analysis of the local NZEB, in addition to the knowledge gained through research, this thesis will offer an FAR calculator tool that can be used by design teams to help assess the net zero potential of their project. The tool analyzes a number of elements within the project such as total building footprint, available surface area for photovoltaic (PV) installation, outdoor circulation and landscape area, parking area and potential parking spots, potential building area in regards to FAR, number of floors based on the building footprint, FAR, required area for photovoltaic installation, photovoltaic system size, and annual energy production, in addition to the maximum potential FAR their project can reach and still be Net Zero.