Energy

Net Zero Buildings Explored: Delta Electronics Americas HQ

Delta Electronics Americas regional headquarters has become the first green building in Fremont, CA, and second in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, to achieve the LEED Zero Energy certification from the USGBC. Originally developed as a pioneering ‘green building’ in September 2015, the site has just completed a series of upgrades that have brought it to Net Zero Buildings Status in May 2023. Founded in 1971, Delta is a global provider of power supplies and thermal management products with a wide portfolio of smart energy-saving systems and solutions in the fields of industrial automation, building automation, telecom, EV charging, renewable energy, and energy storage. Delta has already created 32 green buildings around the world since 2006, with several donated to academic institutions to promote the benefits of green buildings and inspire the next generations. In this research note, we explore Delta's 178,000-square-foot Americas HQ from its initial construction in 2015 to the recent upgrades that […]

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Delta Electronics Americas regional headquarters has become the first green building in Fremont, CA, and second in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, to achieve the LEED Zero Energy certification from the USGBC. Originally developed as a pioneering ‘green building’ in September 2015, the site has just completed a series of upgrades that have brought it to Net Zero Buildings Status in May 2023.

Founded in 1971, Delta is a global provider of power supplies and thermal management products with a wide portfolio of smart energy-saving systems and solutions in the fields of industrial automation, building automation, telecom, EV charging, renewable energy, and energy storage.

Delta has already created 32 green buildings around the world since 2006, with several donated to academic institutions to promote the benefits of green buildings and inspire the next generations. In this research note, we explore Delta's 178,000-square-foot Americas HQ from its initial construction in 2015 to the recent upgrades that have earned it net zero buildings status.

Net Zero Buildings Delta Electronics
Image credit: Media Sector Inc.

Energy Generation

A month after its completion, in October of 2015, the facility earned LEED Platinum certification thanks, in part, to significant solar power generation that incorporated many of Delta's own technologies. A 616kW rooftop PV system has powered approximately 70% of the facility's annual energy consumption for almost eight years, making it a beacon for green buildings on the US West Coast.

At that time, Delta had mentioned the option to increase solar generation with the construction of panels on shading in their large car parking area. And, in May 2023 they completed the installation of a 500kW bi-facial carport PV system combined with Delta's own energy storage system to achieve net-zero energy consumption for many years to come. The 330 kWh energy storage system supports load management, demand response, and energy optimization across the facility.

The facility has one of the largest geothermal systems in Silicon Valley, with Delta taking advantage of its unique location in the Bay Area over natural underground warm springs. The initial design faced issues early on, when the site did not meet the required depths for vertical boreholes, but the project’s team worked with the local Alameda Water District to redesign the loop from vertical to horizontal and achieve their goals.

Now, over 20 miles of horizontal piping stretch below the site at depths of 15 and 30 feet. Using a Delta VFD AC motor drive, the system circulates water in a closed-loop system to exchange heat for an HVAC system estimated to be 70% more efficient than a cooling tower. Heat is transferred to or from the ground to achieve a 60% reduction in energy consumption compared to traditional HVAC systems by utilizing clean energy transfer from the earth’s surface.

Geothermal Net Zero Buildings
Image credit: Delta Electronics

Energy Efficiency

The geothermal system then loops into the building's bi-directional radiant floor and ceiling tubes, circulating 12,000 gallons of water through more than 92 miles of pipe embedded into concrete slabs throughout the structure. Working in collaboration with CBE Berkeley, the system has gained recognition for its ability to provide table and comfortable temperatures throughout the space, whilst maximizing energy efficiency.

Active chilled beams were built into the structure to service the building’s enclosed conference rooms and offices with rapid cooling in response to occupant needs. While a more recent development was the addition of a dedicated economizer supported by our own DC brushless electronically commutated fans and variable frequency drives for HVAC applications in the building’s data center. This has significantly lowered the annual power usage effectiveness (PUE) of the building's data center from 1.5 to 1.25.

The balance of efficiency and occupant comfort is achieved through a mix of smart controls and automation, allowing Delta’s facilities and energy teams to focus on optimization to further reduce the building’s carbon footprint. A control platform and a Loytec building automation system (BAS) integrate the building’s various systems, Delta's own Energy Online platform provides real-time and historical energy data, analysis and monitoring.

The building also employs VTScada by Trihedral, a Delta Group Company, and utilizes the enteliWEB building control platform by Delta Controls, also a Delta Group Company. These platforms integrate with the existing building sub-systems, to create set points, collect data and track trends, create reports, and manage alarms remotely.

The regional HQ takes advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows, an open-space atrium, and skylights to bring lots of sunlight into the building, in addition to an open floor plan and glass divisions to spread that natural light across the facility. Light meters placed around the office ensure optimum light levels for health and productivity.

The building’s parking facility uses 63 energy-efficient LED Parking Lot Lights, which communicate via Zigbee, saving up to 53% energy compared to typical high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights.

Embodied Carbon

Considering it was built in 2015, early in the embodied carbon movement, the facility boasts a respectable 20% of building materials as reclaimed. This includes steel, aggregate in concrete and millwork, as well as all wood elements from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)- certified forests.

The grounds utilize bioswales for natural filtration of rainwater and pollutants to the Baylands, feeding a 140,000-gallon rainwater harvesting tank for landscaping and agriculture, as well as planting native, drought-tolerant plants and trees.

While its unique location over natural springs, adjacent to salt ponds, with views of both the ocean and California’s rolling hills, has allowed Delta to drive biophilic benefits and foster a connection between efficiency and the environment.

Net Zero Buildings Environment

Delta’s America’s HQ is based in Fremont, California. One of the greenest cities in one of the greenest states in the US. California has been a driving force for green building regulations and offers a range of support for real estate projects with green aspirations.

"As one of the greenest cities in the nation, we're proud that Delta Electronics continues to showcase sustainability through thoughtful application of technology, including using its Fremont facility as a proving ground for many of its own products while working through pandemic disruptions to invest even further in our community," said Lily Mei, Mayor of Fremont.

In 2012, as design began on the facility, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B‑18‑12, to increase the number of state‑owned net zero buildings that are ZNE, requiring state agencies to achieve 50% net zero square footage by 2025. This triggered the development of net zero services in the state, making it easier for private companies to create their own net zero buildings project, for a wide range of benefits.

The following year, California released significant changes to its Title 24 Green Building Standards Code, also known as CALGreen. The 2013 edition includes triggers for additions of 1,000 square feet or more, or an alteration that has a permit valuation of $200,000+. This seemingly small code change actually captured a very significant number of California’s buildings and boosted the level of sustainable construction in the state as the Delta Americas HQ was moving into construction.

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