Net Zero Program
Plainfield Park District
Plainfield, IL 60544
Up until 2017, the Plainfield Park District promoted environmentalism and sustainability through small community programs and natural area management. But in 2017, the Park District decided to build its first indoor recreation center with the goal of this construction being net zero energy and promoting environmental stewardship in the community. The District received a $1 million dollar grant (performance based, not yet fully paid out) from ICECF to offset the cost of constructing their Net Zero Prairie Activity & Recreation Center (PARC). PARC was designed to be extremely energy efficient, with enough on-site solar generation to offset all of the building’s energy use. The building was built according to Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) standards. After construction, PARC received PHIUS+2105 Source Zero Certification.
Several elements contribute to the building’s energy efficiency, including site orientation, or the alignment of the building so that sunlight strategically enters the building. PARC was built with its largest windows along the north side of the building. Windows in this location allow for the most natural daylight to enter the building without heat gains from direct sunlight. PARC was also built with a heavily insulated envelope. Every exterior wall, roof, and slab was constructed with a high R- Value (or resistance to heat flow) and without thermal bridges like metal foundations and thin exterior walls that conduct heat to the exterior of the building. PARC was designed with a low window to wall ratio to reduce heat loss through glass panes. All windows are high performance, solar resistance coated, double pane installations.
While under construction, PARC took part in three PHIUS Standard blower door tests to ensure tightness. The high-performing envelope and mechanicals are working together to create a net zero energy building. Mechanicals that power PARC include roof top solar, high efficiency variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, energy recovery ventilators, and a LED lighting system, all of which are controlled remotely from a Building Automation System (BAS). The BAS allows PARC staff to monitor building performance from anywhere, at all times.
To incorporate the community in its net zero energy efforts, PARC includes an educational Net Zero display with a building performance monitor in the lobby, and a list of action items available to all visitors. The list includes instructions like turning off lights when leaving empty rooms, encouraging water conservation, and dressing for the weather. These items allow the community to take part in PARC’s Net Zero plan and learn more sustainable practices for everyday life.