Report shows increase in number of new zero energy buildings

March 7, 2012

A new report that was released by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and the Zero Energy Commercial Building Consortium (CBC) showed that zero energy commercial buildings are cropping up across the U.S.

The report, "Getting To Zero 2012 Status Update: A First Look at the Costs and Features of Zero Energy Commercial Buildings," examines the number, location, costs and design strategies of various types of zero energy commercial buildings. This research showed that the implementation and use of technology to limit the energy costs and consumption for structures in the U.S. is increasing.

"Lofty goals have been set for achieving zero energy buildings by 2030. This study is a first look at whether we could possibly reach those goals. The really good news is extremely energy efficient buildings are being demonstrated in a multitude of climates and across building types. This is certainly a good sign for the future of zero energy buildings," Dave Hewitt, director of the NBI, said in a statement, according to Green Building Elements.

The report outlined how the zero energy buildings have been successfully built in most climate zones of the U.S. and the majority of these structures are either small or medium in size.

According to the report, many of these zero energy buildings are constructed using readily available technology.

"An integrated design approach with careful attention to building siting and layout, envelope, mechanical systems, and electrical systems is critical to achieve the high levels of energy efficiency employed. Unique or experimental systems are infrequently used to reach net zero goals, but the emergence of new technologies will be a factor in the expansion to more building types," the authors of the study concluded.

While some organizations are favoring the use of zero energy buildings that are new, others are looking to retrofit older structures as a way to reduce their costs and consumption.

According to Green Tech Media, the U.S. Department of Defense – the largest property owner and operator in the world – has looked to lower energy costs and consumption by retrofitting older buildings. This federal push for greener structures has already led to savings, as the DOD is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to maximize efficiency.

The DOE is spearheading the effort for more energy efficient buildings in the U.S., as the organization designated an innovation HUB to expedite the process of development and design. The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is headquartered at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and relies on the brightest minds in the region to help advance the sector.