Zero Energy Buildings

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Graphic with the words "To create a zero energy building," and two steps detailed: 1. Increase energy efficiency; 2. Address remaining needs with onsite renewable energy generation.

Zero energy buildings combine energy efficiency and renewable energy generation to consume only as much energy as can be produced onsite through renewable resources over a specified time period. Achieving zero energy is an ambitious yet increasingly achievable goal that is gaining momentum across geographic regions and markets. Private commercial property owners have a growing interest in developing zero energy buildings to meet their corporate goals, and in response to regulatory mandates, federal government agencies and many state and local governments are beginning to move toward zero energy building targets.

Zero Energy Building Definition

DOE developed a common national zero energy building definition with supporting nomenclature and guidelines to facilitate its use, working with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and a broad group of market stakeholders. Federal government agencies, as well as state and local governments, have begun to move toward targets for zero energy buildings, but definitions of what it means to have a zero energy building have varied from region to region and from one building professional to another. A broadly accepted definition of ZEB metrics and boundaries is foundational to efforts by governments, utilities, or private entities to recognize or incentivize zero energy buildings, and would have a significant impact on the development of design strategies for buildings and help spur greater market uptake of such projects.

Download the Zero Energy Building definition here.



CBI provides resources to help those involved in ZEB design and construction control costs, define boundaries and metrics, and otherwise achieve success. Additional resources can be found on the Energy-Performance-Based Acquisition for Commercial Buildings page, as well as the Design and Decision Support Tools page.

Image of the How-to-Guide for Energy-Performance-Based Procurement report cover.

How-to-Guide for Energy-Performance-Based Procurement: This guide provides best practices and lessons learned to help building owners work with their design and construction team to procure high-performance, energy-efficient buildings within typical construction budgets.

Image of the cover of the Cost Control Strategies for Zero Energy Buildings report.

Cost Control Strategies for Zero Energy Buildings: There is mounting evidence that zero energy can, in many cases, be achieved within typical construction budgets. This guide assembles recommendations for replicating specific successes of early adopters who have met their energy goals while controlling costs. A fact sheet summarizing the guide is also available.

Image of the cover of the Strategies for Procuring High-Performance Buildings on Typical Construction Budgets report.

Strategies for Procuring High-Performance Buildings on Typical Construction Budgets: This report documents recommended practices in training materials and a how-to guide so that other owners can create market viable, world-class energy performance in the built environment without increasing first costs.