Zero-Energy Districts: Energy Strategies and Sustainable Opportunities | green streets |

An ambitious experiment in sustainable Fort Collins, Colorado, supporting development of the nation’s first major urban zero-energy district (ZED) is already hinting at important lessons for future implementation possibilities.

Along the Colorado Front Range, the resulting data illustrates how the strategic integration of energy generation, storage, and conservation activities can reduce an electricity grid’s overall energy load at critical peak-demand periods. As workplaces become increasingly energy-efficient, they will also have to generate and store more energy on site. With distributed generation, electricity will ultimately be delivered in a far cleaner fashion than is generally the case with the mostly coal-powered mega–power plants that now feed American power grids.

Working with the city-owned electricity supplier Fort Collins Utilities (FCU) and several locally based clean-energy specialists, participating employers were able to collectively reduce peak-load demand on a designated microgrid within the ZED’s boundaries by more than 20 percent during test periods that lasted more than four weeks...