Net Zero Energy, Water, and Waste Handbooks

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Image of the front of a light brown, yellow and tan net zero building with green grass in the background and tall golden grass in the foreground. A light blue sky looms above the building's roof line.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed its first net zero energy Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum-certified building in fiscal year 2012 at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Net zero energy, water, and waste buildings and campuses are a growing target in the federal sector. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) developed three handbooks that feature strategies to help agencies meet net zero energy, water, and waste laws and requirements.

Federal New Buildings Handbook for Net Zero Energy, Water, and Waste

A net zero energy federal building (constructed, renovated, or existing) is operated to:

  • Maximize energy efficiency
  • Implement energy recovery opportunities where feasible
  • Balance the actual annual source energy consumption with on-site renewable energy generation.

A net zero water federal building (constructed, renovated, or existing) is operated to:

  • Minimize total water consumption
  • Maximize alternative water sources
  • Minimize wastewater discharge from the building
  • Return water to the original water source such that the annual water consumption is equivalent to the alternative water use plus water returned to the original source over the course of a year.

A net zero waste federal building is operated to:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, or recover solid waste streams (with the exception of hazardous and medical waste) thereby resulting in no waste disposal to landfills or incinerators.

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Federal Existing Buildings Handbook for Net Zero Energy, Water, and Waste

A net zero energy federal building (constructed, renovated, or existing) is operated to:

  • Maximize energy efficiency
  • Implement energy recovery opportunities where feasible
  • Balance the actual annual source energy consumption with on-site renewable energy generation.

A net zero water federal building (constructed, renovated, or existing) is operated to:

  • Minimize total water consumption
  • Maximize alternative water sources
  • Minimize wastewater discharge from the building
  • Return water to the original water source such that the annual water consumption is equivalent to the alternative water use plus water returned to the original source over the course of a year.

A net zero waste federal building is operated to:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, or recover solid waste streams (with the exception of hazardous and medical waste) thereby resulting in no waste disposal to landfills or incinerators.

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Federal Campuses Handbook for Net Zero Energy, Energy, Water, and Waste

A net zero energy federal campus:

  • Reduces overall energy use
  • Maximizes efficiency
  • Implements energy recovery and cogeneration opportunities
  • Offsets the remaining demand with the production of renewable energy from on-site sources so the campus produces as much renewable energy as it uses over the course of a year.

A net zero water federal campus:

  • Minimizes total water consumption
  • Maximizes alternative water sources
  • Minimizes wastewater discharge
  • Returns water to the original water source such that the annual water consumption is equivalent to the alternative water use plus the water returned to the original water source over the course of a year.

A net zero waste federal campus:

  • Reduces, reuses, recycles/composts, and recovers solid waste streams (with the exception of hazardous and medical waste), converting them to resource values, resulting in no waste disposal to landfills or incinerators.

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Cover of the A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings.

FEMP's three handbooks focus on applying the methodology presented in A Common Definition to Zero Energy Buildings, which addresses buildings owned by the federal government and have federal employees as occupants.

Federal energy, water, and waste management has typically focused on minimizing use first then looking for alternatives to achieving the net zero target. Many energy, water, and waste regulatory requirements and mandates are in place to drive the federal sector toward reducing consumption first, then encourage alternative paths to reducing resource use, impact, and costs.

A Common Definition to Zero Energy Buildings offers strategies that are in support of, but are not intended to replace, substitute, or modify any statutory or regulatory requirements and mandates.

Related Information

See Net Zero Water Building Strategies for additional information about net zero water and how to design and implement net zero water buildings.