Archive Of The Category ‘zero net energy‘


Pruning the Gas Tree – A Great Idea!

A decade ago, zero net energy (ZNE) was barely on the radar of the building industry – even barely on the radar of many in the energy efficiency community. And electrification (read: getting rid of gas) was even less a topic of discussion. That has changed in a VERY big way in the last year or so. Increasingly, the ZNE community is of the mind that natural gas and propane don’t fit into our clean energy future; we have to eliminate their combustion footprint.

If anything, the State of California’s recent giant step backwards re new home energy performance – from ZNE by 2020 to zero net electricity by 2020 – has served to heat up this conversation. I’m not going into all the details of that now, suffice to say that ZNE requires offsetting all household energy – both gas and electricity – and thus sets a considerably higher bar than zero net electricity. Granted, there are legislative obstacles to ZNE by 2020, but nevertheless, this shift has been extremely disappointing to many of us in the ZNE community. Essentially, it sweeps gas under the rug for at least one more code cycle (3 years), along with all of its downsides.

As you’ll see if you follow the “downsides” link, Massachusetts-based Home Energy Efficiency Team ( is all over this, and they’ve come up with a genius idea for a pilot: Pruning the Gas “Tree.” The essence of it is a competition calling for residents on stub streets to agree to invest utility funds that otherwise would be spent on pipe upgrades, to electrify their homes and shut off the gas line to their street. They’ve figured out the costs, and it’s a total win-win. Let’s replicate this in every utility territory in the country!

International Finance Corporation and Architecture 2030 Collaborate on Zero Net Carbon Buildings for the developing world.

A fishing village just a few years ago, Shenzhen is now a megacity. Photo: YoTuT

Architecture 2030 once again demonstrates international leadership with this new partnership.

Architecture 2030 and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, have partnered to support the international architecture and building community in designing zero net carbon (ZNC)buildings worldwide.

IFC created the EDGE program, a green building certification system with free online software for emerging markets. As part of the partnership, EDGE software has been enhanced to include carbon reporting, as well as recognition for the procurement of off-site renewable energy and carbon offsets.

Read more here.

What technologies and strategies will help increase ZNE adoption?

I am part of a team working on a research project for the California Energy Commission (CEC). As I’m sure many of you know, the State of California has “big, bold” energy goals for the design and construction industry: all new residential construction should be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020 and all new nonresidential construction should be ZNE by 2030.

The CEC has asked us to find out what priority stakeholders place on research needs for various technologies and strategies that would increase adoption/implementation of ZNE. We are conducting a survey to help answer this question, and hope to reach a wide array of ZNE stakeholders, both inside and outside California (learn more).

Please provide your opinions and insights in a 10-15 minute survey.

Thanks very much ​on behalf of our team: Itron, New Buildings Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Davis Energy Group, Integral Group​

Cold Climate Zero

Kudos to Energy Futures Group in Hinesburg, VT, which is nearing completion of construction on their new small office building. It’s a conversion of an old farmhouse, and a wonderful example of a cold-climate zero net energy retrofit.
Read more & view video at

The Numbers Are in! ZE Homes Up 33% From 2015

Yesterday, the Net Zero Energy Coalition ( released its 2016 inventory report, To Zero and Beyond. The number of zero-energy (plus/minus) homes in the US and Canada increased 33 percent over the Coalition’s baseline inventory – 8,203 residential units completed, in construction, and in design vs. 6,177 units in 2015. The number in the pipeline is even more impressive, with just under 30,000 in the planning stages. The numbers also represent an upward trend in terms of energy performance.

Read the whole report at

Canada Launches New Zero Energy Label

On May 2, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association launched its Net Zero Home Labeling program for both full zero-energy and zero-energy-ready homes. Instrumental in creating the program was Sonja Winkelmann, one of Canada’s foremost experts in zero energy and former executive director of the Net Zero Energy Coalition ( Read more about the new program at

CHBA Net Zero Home labeling program

CHBA Net Zero Home labeling program

AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference Focuses on Building Science

AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference, April 2nd – 4th

Enough for today about past events — this one is still on the horizon. Next week, in fact!

In San Bruno, about 2 miles from where I sit as the crow flies, Skyline College’s Solar and Building Science department will be hosting the California Society of the American Institute of Building Designers‘ annual conference, April 2-4. This year’s theme is “Building Design + Building Science.” Joining keynoters Rick Chitwood, Gavin Healy, and Dan Perunko, I am honored to be playing a major role in this gathering of designers and builders from throughout the state. I’ll be teaching all day Thursday, April 3, concluding with a keynote address entitled, “The Persistent Pursuit of Practical Passion.” (I confess, I have a silly streak a mile wide … though I promise the content will be completely serious.)

All are welcome, not just AIBD members — come one, come all architects, general contractors, subcontractors, engineeers, HERS raters, BPI analysts, interior designers — this is for you if you’re noticing that the topic of building science seems to be gaining in importance along with energy performance!

California state agencies are mobilizing to get all of the State’s new homes to be zero net energy (ZNE) by the year 2020, and all new non-residential buildings to be ZNE by 2030. In order to accomplish this ambitious goal, all of us in the building industry are going to have to become much more savvy about building science. This event will be a great opportunity to get a jump on your competition — or hear the latest developments, if you’re already working at the intersection of good building design and superior building performance.

View the full conference schedule here. Register here.


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ZNE Home Retrofitting Classes in San Diego

Gas & Electric will be hosting our 4-part class series on retrofitting existing homes to achieve deep energy reductions while targeting zero net energy. Here’s the schedule:

  • May 9: Overview – yours truly (Ann Edminster)
  • May 23: Mechanical Systems – Rick Chitwood
  • May 30: Enclosure – Rick Chitwood + Gavin Healy
  • June 6: People & Plug Loads – Chris Calwell + Chris Hunt

Register here.