Photo Credit: Building Design + Construction
The number of verified zero net energy (ZNE) buildings has increased dramatically in recent years. Back in 2012, the New Buildings Institute (NBI) published their first ever list of verified zero net energy buildings, with only 21 making the list. NBI has continued to publish this list annually and in 2016 the number of verified zero net energy buildings had nearly tripled. Even more promising is the increase in the number of emerging projects with a net zero goal in mind – what was once 39 total projects in 2012 is now approaching 300 in 2017. This is no small feat, as achieving net zero status requires a steep learning curve for design teams, higher investment costs up front, and picking apart many of the current energy systems we have used for decades. Despite their complexity, zero net energy buildings are the real deal with regards to the massive increase in energy cost savings and decrease in environmental impact. To be considered “zero net energy,” these high performance buildings must produce enough renewable energy to power themselves over the course of a year.