“Zero-energy” (also referred to as “net zero energy” or “zero net energy”) has been in the green building lexicon for years. However, there has always been a lack of clarity as to what exactly constituted a zero-energy building.
This uncertainty has created confusion in the market and hindered zero energy building efforts and achievements. Now, according to a recent Energy.gov article, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finally cleared up the confusion with the release of A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings!
The publication is a culmination of an 18-month stakeholder study conducted with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), and it offers a standard definition for zero energy buildings as well as provides important guidelines for measurement and implementation. The study states a zero-energy building is “an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.” The definition also applies to campuses, portfolios, and communities.
Beyond establishing industry-wide clarity, providing a standard definition will help states and private sector partners speed the pace and expand the success of zero energy construction.
“While we are making significant progress to save energy in buildings, this zero energy building definition developed by DOE helps increase expectations and orient the building industry towards even greater achievements,” said Brendan Owens, chief engineer at the U.S. Green Building Council. “USGBC applauds DOE’s effort to define zero energy buildings and we look forward to continuing to champion the cause of building efficiency and renewable energy applications to meet the ambitious goals of this definition.”
“These consistent definitions will contribute to the growth of zero energy building construction across the country,” said Ralph DiNola, CEO of New Buildings Institute (NBI). “NBI supports the definitions as a federal position and will promote this effort through the work we do leading programs, practices, and policies to get to zero across North America.”
Simply put, a zero energy building produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thus reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the building sector. The long-term advantages of this includes reduced environmental impact, lower operating and maintenance costs, better resilience to power outages and natural disasters, and improved energy security.
Reducing building energy consumption in new building construction or renovation can be accomplished through various means, including integrated design, energy efficiency retrofits, reduced plug loads, and energy conservation programs. Reduced energy consumption makes it easier and less expensive to meet the building’s energy needs with renewable sources of energy.
By clarifying what it means to be a zero energy building, more building owners will be able to determine if developing a zero energy building is right for them. By creating this common definition, building owners and project teams can now better focus their effort on implementing strategies to improve the performance of their buildings.
Read the complete story at Energy.gov for more details and reactions to the DOE’s new zero energy building publication, A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings.