Trainings Help Build Knowledge and Design Capability that is Driving ZNE in California

Zero net energy workshops are back in 2017! California has ambitious goals around zero net energy (ZNE) buildings and rightly so. Buildings account for roughly 40% of the carbon emissions in the United States and is up to 80% of the emissions in cities such as Berkeley. Buildings also represent the best near-term opportunity for curbing carbon according to an Arup study.

In order to help policymakers develop ZNE ordinances, building owners to understand the benefits of these ultra-low energy projects, and design teams to successfully achieve ZNE performance, more than a dozen workshops have educated over 950 attendees across the state in 2016. And more are planned for this year.

With a special emphasis on addressing the existing building stock, six workshops on achieving zero net energy in existing buildings will be held. Four specialized workshops for schools and two addressing how building portfolio managers can improve their own building stock and catalyze action on privately owned existing buildings with in their jurisdictions. The schools workshops will highlight the opportunities for whole building retrofits utilizing support from Prop 39.

School square footage is increasing while energy use remains the same, according to the 2003 and 2012 Commercial Buildings Consumption Survey (CBECS). The average school EUI is 58 and NBI research shows schools seeking ZNE should have a 22 EUI, leaving opportunity for a lot of energy efficiency. In addition to the trainings which help school district officials and design teams better understand how current buildings can be updated to meet ZNE goals, the state’s investor-owned utilities are supporting pilot projects by providing up to $550M/year of Proposition 39 funds to achieve ZNE through whole building retrofits.

Local government representatives will have two opportunities to gain understanding on how to achieve climate goals through municipal building benchmarking and portfolio analysis, ZNE pilot projects, encouraging ZNE market leadership through recognition, ZNE codes and polices, financial incentives, and other tactics.

These free sessions are hosted by the California Utilities Commission and the Investor-Owned Utilities (schools) and offer interactive, high quality programming that is a true force in advancing California’s leading position in this rapidly developing building practice. Further assistance is available through NBI resources including the ZNE Communications Toolkit which helps the various audiences for ZNE understand the benefits, opportunities, and necessary steps for achieving successful projects. In addition to the toolkit and case studies, NBI publishes a California ZNE Watchlist that chronicles the growth in verified and emerging buildings across the state to help early adopters tell the stories and share the lessons of these projects.

Want to know more? Stay informed by subscribing to the ZNE Action Bulletin, a regular newsletter reporting on ZNE-related news, policy, research, innovative ZNE buildings, and ZNE education opportunities. Check our Events page for updates. Workshops and their registrations will continue to be added throughout the year. These workshops sell out fast so register as soon as possible!

Webly Bowles, Project Manager