New buildings database showcases growing market trend of low and zero energy buildings

December 10, 2014—Detailed information on North America’s most energy-efficient and zero energy buildings is now available online with the New Building Institute’s Getting to Zero Buildings Database. The database features more than 280 buildings from all climate zones across the U.S., Canada and beyond, including a variety of building types such as schools, offices, nursing homes, wineries and courthouses. The number of zero energy-verified buildings—those that use only as much energy as can be produced on-site through renewable resources—total 37.

The increasing number of zero energy buildings found in the database signals the latest trend in green building. “Zero energy buildings are definitely leading the future of the market,” said Clayton Ulrich, Hines Senior Vice President. “For the building industry, this database contains key information on some of the industry’s successes.”
Zero Energy Buildings Nationally In the U.S., California leads in the number of low and zero energy projects with 58, followed by Oregon (18), Colorado (17), Washington (16), Virginia (12), Massachusetts (11), Florida (10), Pennsylvania (10), Illinois (8), North Carolina (8), and New York (8).

The one-of-a-kind database allows users to search properties by type, size, location and energy use intensity (or, efficiency level). Building profiles include information on energy-saving features, design approaches, finances, people involved in the project, and the building’s net energy use. In many cases, the net energy use of buildings is zero or even positive, thanks to ultra-efficient design, smart energy management, and on-site renewable energy production.

The database offers architects, developers, designers, owners, and other building industry professionals a chance to learn from the experiences of their peers and colleagues through in-depth case studies of successful projects.

“We learned a lot through the process of building three net-zero energy offices,” said Ted van der Linden of DPR Construction, which has designed and constructed its office buildings in San Diego, Phoenix and San Francisco as net-zero energy performers. “Each project informed the next and we are getting better and better at optimizing our approach. These are the lessons represented in NBI’s buildings database—invaluable.”

Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation which is headquartered in the tallest zero energy building, agrees. “Before we started developing the Bullitt Center, we searched around for a database of high performance green buildings,” said Hayes. “This new tool will be a boon for information sharing and will help speed the adoption of new thinking and technologies in green building.”

Unlike other green building certification programs which rely on modeled energy performance, the zero energy buildings highlighted in NBI’s Getting to Zero database are projects that have actually accomplished zero energy performance based on a review of at least 12 months of measured energy use data. The database is always growing as new buildings are submitted and verified by NBI staff.

NBI invites design teams and building owners to submit projects through its Building Registry. Projects will be reviewed and evaluated for performance and possible inclusion in the database. Projects that don’t yet have a year of energy use data are also encouraged to enter their projects for possible inclusion in NBI’s high performance buildings list.

“The exponential growth in the number of buildings in the database reflects where the market is going overall – up,” said NBI Executive Director Ralph DiNola. “Building owners are increasingly calling for ultra-efficient and zero-energy construction. K-12 schools and office buildings are well represented, with a growing number of private development projects being entered. Smart designers and developers know if they aren’t moving in this direction, they will fall behind.”

Buildings featured in the database include K-12 schools such as:

As well as commercial, higher education and mixed-use building such as:


Note to editors: We have created a number of graphics representing aspects of the information in the database. Those links are below.

Map of Zero and Exemplary Energy Buildings

Square Footage of Buildings
Common Building Types
Retrofit versus New Construction

For more information contact:

    • Stacey Hobart, New Buildings Institute


    • Phone: 360-567-0950 ext. 103 | Mobile: 503-407-2148


    • Email:

[email protected]

About New Buildings Institute

    New Buildings Institute (NBI) is a nonprofit organization working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. As a technical resource for governments, utilities, energy efficiency advocates and the building industry, NBI acts as a carrier of ideas between these groups and works collaboratively to put the best innovations for advanced buildings into action. Our primary work areas are focused on creating the thought leadership that defines “What’s Next” in our industry, assessing effectiveness of emerging technologies, promoting best practice design approaches and helping to guide policies and programs that will significantly improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.