Approaching Zero

Design teams reach the once-elusive goal of creating buildings that produce as much energy as they consume.
Joann Gonchar

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define net zero energy.
  2. Outline the necessary steps that project teams typically follow during the design process in order to create an ultra low-energy building.
  3. Discuss some of the challenges that project teams often face during the post-occupancy measurement and verification phase for net zero buildings.
  4. Define terms relevant to net zero buildings, such as “plug and process loads” and “energy use intensity.”


This test is no longer available for credit

A building that produces all the energy it requires, without sacrifices to its operations or concessions of human comfort, might sound like pie in the sky. But according to the New Buildings Institute (NBI), 160 commercial and institutional buildings in the U.S. are targeting or have achieved net zero energy—meaning that, over the course of a year, they produce at least as much energy from renewable sources as they consume. Although 160 admittedly is a small number, only two years ago the nonprofit institute's count was less than half of that, at 60 buildings. What's more, these aspirations are no longer limited to small demonstration projects: net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) now encompass everything from schools to federal office buildings and laboratories, and many have large, sophisticated programs. Click here to read about it »

Photo Nick Merrick © Hedrich Blessing


Originally published in Architectural Record.
Originally published in October 2014