U.S. Net Zero Buildings – Reviewing Progress
While the trend toward net zero energy buildings has accelerated, no one knew just how many such buildings existed. In this discussion, Dave Hewitt, executive director of the New Buildings Institute, reports on a research paper that provided answers. The study found that as of April 2012 there were:
21 true net zero energy buildings with complete data documentation.
39 net zero net energy emerging buildings – those in design, under construction or built but not yet documented.
39 net zero energy capable buildings – as energy efficient as net zero buildings but not yet equipped with on-site renewable energy.
These buildings types are diverse and cross a variety of regions and climates. Almost all are under 10,000 square feet (the 200,000-square-foot National Renewable Energy Laboratory building is a notable exception). Energy efficiency ratings typically are in the range of 20 to 30 kBtu/square foot, and some are even lower. Photovoltaic systems supply the renewable energy.
Whereas in the past most net zero projects were specialty buildings like university laboratories and environmental centers, more ordinary (or “second generation”) net zero buildings are emerging, like multi-family housing, schools and offices, indicating that the concept is going mainstream.
The research paper also includes a look at the market, describes lessons learned from current projects on technologies and strategies applied, it outlines programs and policies that supporting forward movement toward net zero, and lists recommended next steps.
Net Zero by 2030: Where Do We Stand with the Policies, Programs and Projects Necessary to Achieve this Goal? Dave Hewitt and Stacey Hobart, New Buildings Institute, 2012.