New building generates more than 130% of the energy it needs


The Sustainable Energy Fund has selected Ashley McGraw Architects to develop a new 15,000-square-foot net zero office building in Lehigh Valley town of Schnecksville.

The net zero building will generate more than 130% of the energy it needs, challenging conventional thinking on efficiency in the commercial sector

The building will consume about 25% of the energy used by comparable commercial structures.

Ashley McGraw is employing several design and technological strategies including:

  • The building will be oriented on its site—within an existing apple orchard—to take maximum advantage of sun and shade, with its surfaces and openings precisely positioned to minimize energy expenditures
  • An array of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the single-story building will generate all necessary energy for the operation of the facility
  • The building envelope is designed for high performance, with continuous insulation and a close attention to airtightness
  • All building systems—from HVAC to plumbing to electrical and lighting—are selected and engineered for optimal performance

“The net-zero building is the first of its kind in the region,” said John Costlow, president and CEO of Sustainable Energy Fund. “This project demonstrates the commercial viability of net-zero construction.”

Ed McGraw, founding partner and CEO of Ashley McGraw, added:, “This project will confirm to the commercial sector that net zero energy can be achieved for the same costs as a conventional office building—something that the developer community has been reluctant to pursue. We’re excited to collaborate with a client like SEF, who shares our commitment to regenerative design, and the proven value it offers to all stakeholders.”