Zero Net Energy Buildings: The Future Is Now

A quiet revolution is unfolding across North America; a simple and captivating idea is taking hold in executive suites, board rooms, design studios, on constructions sites, among political leaders, citizens, school teachers and students alike. Zero net energy (ZNE)—ultra-efficient structures that use only as much energy as can be produced onsite through clean, renewable resources–provide a vision of our potential future…today.2014 Getting to Zero Status UpdateA growing body of evidence shows that in the past decade, the notion of a building that is energy neutral or supplies energy to the utility grid has not only become possible, but is a nascent movement that is now expanding across the continent. In the coming decade, this revolution in the building industry will disrupt business as usual and effectively transform the building sector to deliver and operate buildings and communities that produce more than they consume.NBI’s latest 2014 Getting to Zero Status Update provides the most comprehensive, current and available information on exemplary ZNE and ultra-efficient buildings across North America. Building on our 2012 report, this update documents that:

  1. ZNE is a major trend in the building industry. Completed and verified projects are demonstrating that ZNE is feasible for a diverse array of project types and geographies for both new construction and major renovation. While the majority of projects are public sector, there is notable growth in private, for-profit development. Significantly, efforts are scaling up from individual buildings to districts and communities.
  2. To achieve ZNE, setting the ZNE goal at the outset of the project is a significant contributor to success. Having an aspirational and absolute target for energy performance drives a substantially different development process, which requires integrated thinking, planning and execution for the life cycle of the building. As a result, assembling and working with the right team, with the know-how and experience to deliver a ZNE building or community appears to be an essential ingredient for successful projects.
  3. The development and adoption of policies, codes and incentives that guide and promote the adoption of ZNE buildings and communities are strong market drivers that will help pave the way to more rapid growth across the building industry.

At NBI, we are driven by our passion and commitment to improve the energy performance of the built environment through our leading edge research, solutions and policy work. With our partners, sponsors, collaborators and friends, we are working to develop and bring together the best resources available to bolster the movement. Come along with us, join the revolution, and help speed the transformation of our built environment to give more than it takes.For more information on the new report, visit