Net Zero Energy Communities: The Next Step in Energy Efficiency
How can the concept of net zero energy buildings translate to net zero energy communities? Getting to net zero energy at the community level means maximizing the energy efficiency of each building in that community, including many existing buildings, and meeting the remaining energy demand with renewable energy.
Supplying the renewable energy component can be easier at the community level because sites are typically available to accommodate larger-scale, high-efficiency solar photovoltaic installations. Beyond that, net zero energy in communities can be managed over time rather than completed as a single, all-encompassing project. This tends to lower the cost and reduce disruption to building occupants.
By balancing the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency with renewable energy options, communities can find a minimum-cost pathway to net zero energy. Various financial mechanisms exist to help pay for the incremental cost. Increased asset values, increased comfort, increased energy independence, lower maintenance and energy costs and the potential for lower life-cycle costs are among the reasons that communities are considering the possibility of net zero energy.