Much like Passive House and Active House building/construction, the concept of Net Zero is one that is popular when striving towards designing and constructing “green” buildings since it is an appealing approach in helping to reduce energy-related costs as well as protect against future energy cost increases. While each of these design/build standards can have overlap in their approach, there can sometimes be confusion as to what net zero construction actually is.
A Net Zero building typically has been design and built in a way that it can produce as much energy as it consumes within the course of a year. A building that is Net Zero typically features a series of technologies that are integrated to work together. Careful and precise planning during the design phase to ensure all the technologies work together help ensure maximum energy savings are achieved.
As previously noted, a net zero energy (NZE) home does not necessarily have to be “off grid”. There can still be a connection to the electricity power grid which allows for the supply of electricity back to the power grid should the building produce more energy than it requires.
A 2016 report from the New Buildings Institute (NBI), states that 39 states across the US and several provinces in Canada had Net Zero building activity with California being the leader in Net Zero construction.
How does Net Zero relate to LEED certification?
At a very basic level, Net Zero construction is a design and building approach that works toward sustainability with LEED as a certification program that bestows recognition on the building materials used within a building that is working towards being “green” and energy efficient. The LEED program poses a challenge to projects to assess how building materials and ongoing consumable are procured.
As noted earlier Net Zero, or Zero Net Energy, construction is fast becoming widely recognized and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has seen this fast adoption in buildings that it has certified. According to the USGBC, more than 60 percent of the buildings that were verified as Net Zero in 2016 also earned LEED certification showing that the two ideas can go hand-in-hand.
Why should you consider Net Zero construction?
While Net Zero construction provides a reduction in energy costs as well as a protection against any future energy costs, it can also offer other advantages including resilience during power failures little energy is required to operate the building, reduction on any environmental impact due to a reduction in energy-related pollution and emissions, and finally, quieter, more comfortable spaces to work and live.