The Prairie Activity & Recreation Center (PARC) is the first recreation center in the State of Illinois designed within Net Zero parameters. It received its Passive House certification in the fall of 2019 and its Net Zero Energy certification for the 2023 calendar year.
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.
Why a Net Zero Energy Building?
This Net Zero Energy building is a testament of our commitment to improve our community now and for future generations. The mission of the Plainfield Park District is to enhance lives through equitable, accessible, and exceptional recreation opportunities for all. Along with the mission statement, one of the District’s Core Values is Stewardship of Natural Resources, which contains the sub-tenets of:
- The preservation of open space
- The development of parks in a respectful manner
- A strong commitment to green and sustainable approaches and opportunities
The facility received a $1million grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to help fund construction and materials to achieve the Net Zero Energy 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. That third-party is Passive House Institute US (PHIUS)
PARC 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.
- Project 1490: Prairie Activity & Recreation Center
How Does it all Work?
To create a Net Zero Energy building, it is important to monitor both energy generation and energy consumption. About 18,000 square feet of the roof is covered in 591 photovoltaic (solar) panels, along with an 88-panel ground array, which together are capable of producing 213 kilowatts of electricity on site with excess energy that can be banked to offset natural gas usage.
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. Through the use of triple glazed windows and super energy efficient insulated walls, PARC maintains heat in the winter and cool temperatures in the summer. The windows are high-performance, low-emissivity (low-E) coated 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.