In Oregon, the Energy Trust has launched a new Net Zero Fellowship. The aim is to support focused research that promotes market understanding and practices of net zero energy in commercial buildings. The fellowship will also assist in developing a community of advanced practitioners in Oregon.
Energy Trust has committed $50,000 to be split between two fellows in this inaugural year. Applications are due on January 9, 2017. You will find details about the application on the Path to Net Zero website. Building industry professionals are welcome and encouraged to apply. Applicants must demonstrate their capacity to conduct research and disseminate results on topics critical to the practice of net zero energy.
This research fellowship is an important step to spread knowledge of net zero buildings. While it’s still early in the market development, all indications are that these are better buildings. They use less energy, are more resilient, have higher value and better financial returns. Occupants appear to be happier and more productive in net zero buildings, yet more research is needed.
Topics for research fellowships are flexible. For example, a fellow might investigate policy barriers that currently present a challenge to net zero construction. More information on the costs and benefits would help tell the financial story of net zero buildings, as would more information on the owner and occupant benefits. Personally, I also think that focused research on net zero in existing buildings through deep energy retrofits would be an interesting topic.
I’m excited to learn more about the ideas of prospective fellows who want to share their learnings with others in Oregon. A distinguished group of professionals, including NBI’s own Ralph DiNola, have agreed to provide advice and support to Energy Trust in the selection of the first Net Zero Fellows in the United States. Stay tuned. In Spring 2017, I will highlight these first ever Net Zero Fellows and the research that will benefit this growing market.