Net-Zero Energy Buildings & Communities
Net-Zero Energy buildings give back as much as they receive.
A net-zero energy (NZE) building or community generates as much renewable energy on-site over the course of a year as it consumes. There are only a handful of commercial buildings in the entire US that have achieved this according to the New Buildings Institute, 21 to be precise.
To achieve NZE, precision is crucial. Although some sites may have the ability to install energy-dense small wind turbines, most buildings will be limited to generating renewable energy through solar electric or solar thermal technologies. As a result, an energy budget can be determined by calculating the site's energy generation (EG). While the cost of solar electric power is decreasing rapidly, it is limited in its energy generation density. As a result, any NZE building must be ultra-efficient, going beyond typical energy audit efficiency opportunities. Thus, the path to NZE must contain aggressive energy-efficiency.
For that reason, our firm is pioneering in this nascent but very important field. With the most highly-trained, most experienced energy-efficiency team around, we are well-poised to help your NZE vision become a reality. Already our firm has been involved in several NZE projects, including:
Not all buildings can achieve NZE. Most significantly, energy dense buildings such as skyscrapers, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities, are unlikely to be able to achieve NZE without a good-sized wind turbine. For these buildings, we can create an "NZE-budget" for energy use per square-foot, to determine how efficient the building would need to be to achieve NZE if it were only a single-story with standard operating hours. In doing so we calculate the ratio of energy generated (EG) to the energy required (ER) of the building, or the EG/ERTM quotient. The EG/ERTM of the building is a way to grade the NZE readiness of a building.
For buildings that can technically achieve NZE, we believe they can often do so economically. This is because new financing mechanisms such as Power-Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and on-bill financing through utilities or PACE programs can allow positive cash-flow for longer payback projects. With these financing mechanisms and our consulting team, many buildings can achieve NZE.