Photo - solar panels on lower roof

Incorporating the Northbrook Park District’s mission of environmental stewardship and sustainability, Techny Prairie Activity Center is constructed
as a Net Zero Energy Building—a highly energy-efficient facility with the total calculated amount of energy used by the building being equal to or less than the amount of renewable energy created on-site. Click here to view last month’s building data.

Techny Prairie Activity Center (TPAC) is a Net Zero Energy Building – made possible, in part, through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

TPAC is a PHIUS+ 2015 & Source Zero Certified Project from the Passive House Institute US.*

  • The Passive House Building Energy Standard promoted by PHIUS is the most rigorous building energy standard in the world.
  • Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level.
  • Source Zero is a practical and practicable approach to advance community goals of carbon neutrality and climate resilience at the project level.

*Details sourced from: PHIUS

What is Net Zero?

In a Net Zero Energy Building, the total amount of annual energy generated with solar panels is greater than or equal to the amount of energy used by the building.

How Does it all Work?

To create a Net Zero Energy building, it is important to monitor both energy generation and energy consumption.

There are 833 photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof at TPAC that will produce the energy needed to operate the building. This array could power 40 hours for a year using solar energy, the most abundant energy source on earth. In full sunshine, each solar panel actively generates 360 watt-hours (0.36kWh) of electricity in one hour which is enough to power 125 smart phones for an hour or power two flat screen TVs for an hour.

On the consumption side, the building was carefully designed for maximum efficiency. Airtight construction along with high values of Polyisocyanurate insulation and highly efficient heating and cooling equipment maintain building temperatures. The windows, covering just 16% of the exterior walls, are strategically placed to maximize light as well as sweeping views of the surrounding park. They are high-performance, low-emissivity (low-E) coated windows with triple-pane, argon gas-filled insulated glass. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting throughout the facility and in the parking lot utilizes light and motion sensors for additional energy savings.

Why a Net Zero Energy Building?

The Mission of the Northbrook Park District is to enhance our community by providing outstanding services, parks and facilities through environmental, social and financial stewardship. This Net Zero Energy building is a testament of our commitment to improve our community now and for future generations.

The facility is receiving a $1.78 million grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. This grant helped fund construction and materials to achieve the Net Zero Energy Building status. The Net Zero Energy Building Program awards grants to nonprofit, government and higher education organizations for exemplary buildings that maximize energy efficiency.

In order to qualify for the grant, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation requires that the building receive a third-party certification ensuring the building is aggressively efficient in its energy use.

ICON - Net Zero Energy Building