The White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy (Climate Policy Office), through the U.S. Department of Energy, seeks to create a standardized, verifiable basis for defining a zero emissions building. A broadly accepted common minimum definition for a zero emissions building, as well as a pathway for verification, is foundational to efforts by public and private entities to transition the building sector to zero emissions. The definition may serve as a framework that users can achieve through multiple pathways to influence the design and operation of buildings to substantially reduce building sector emissions.

National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building: Part 1 Operating Emissions

DOE has developed part 1 of a draft definition for zero emissions buildings, applicable to existing buildings and new construction of non-federally owned buildings. (This definition is not intended for federally owned buildings, which are governed as a portfolio through statutory and executive guidance.)

The minimum criteria included to define a zero operating emissions building is a building that is:

  • Highly energy efficient, 
  • Free of on-site emissions from energy use, and 
  • Powered solely from clean energy. 

The full draft definition with its supporting criteria is outlined in “National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building: Part 1 Operating Emissions (Version 1.00), Draft Criteria.”

While Part 1 focuses on operational emissions, which have well-established measurement protocols, reducing the whole life cycle emissions of a building also requires minimizing the embodied carbon of the building as well as minimizing the impacts of refrigerants. Such emissions may be addressed in parts of the definition that will be released at a later date.

Request for Information on National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building

DOE released a request for information (RFI) to solicit comments, data, information, and other feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on Part 1 of a draft National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building. This document, concerning National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building: Part 1 Operating Emissions, is an action issued by the Department of Energy. Though it is not intended or expected, should any discrepancy occur between the document posted here and the document published in the Federal Register, the Federal Register publication controls. This document is being made available through the Internet solely as a means to facilitate the public's access to this document.

DOE will consider responses to this RFI before finalizing version 1.00 of Part 1 of the National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building. This RFI has been published on EERE Exchange and the Federal Register.

  • RFI Questions: See the Federal Register notice or EERE Exchange
  • Responses: Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically at
  • DeadlinesDOE will accept comments, data, and information regarding this request for information no later than 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
  • Virtual Listening Sessions: Two public listening sessions will be held on the draft definition. Registration is capped at the first 100 attendees:
    • Thursday, January 11, 2024 @ 10 a.m. ET – This listening session has concluded. 

    • Tuesday, January 30, 2024 @ 10:30 a.m. ET – This listening session has concluded.

    • Wednesday, February 21, 2024 @ 1:30 p.m. ET – Register

    • Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 11:00 a.m. ET – Register