Creating a Pathway for Zero Net Energy New Buildings

The trend towards zero net energy buildings continues to grow across the country and NCBPA is leading efforts to ensure that North Carolina’s built environment is positioned to be a leader.  The association is working with its members and partners to establish a defined pathway to zero net energy ready new buildings by 2042.  With North Carolina’s current 2018 Building Code equating to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standard and including no current requirements for renewable energy, energy storage or electric vehicles, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

How You Can Play a Role

Join NCBPA as a Member Company, Sponsor or Partner to begin participating in planning meetings, code development campaigns, events and policy advocacy to build the pathway!

What is a Zero Energy Home or Building?

There are a few different ways that our industry describes the slight differences in very low energy using homes or buildings that may actually put energy back onto the grid.  Those names include: Zero Energy, Zero Energy Ready, Zero Net Energy Ready, Zero Net Energy or Energy Positive.  No matter what it’s called, these homes and buildings are hyper energy efficient and either ready for renewable energy systems like solar, or actively using them in order to achieve net zero energy usage or even net energy positive, where they actually produce energy for other people and businesses to use on the grid!

Here are some short videos that describe zero energy homes and buildings.

Want to learn about zero net energy buildings?  Watch the below webinar recording from NCBPA member companies SfL+a Architects, CALMAC/Trane Technologies and Building Clarity that was recorded on April 16, 2020.

Want to learn about zero net energy homes?  Watch the below video from a workshop presented by NCBPA member Amy Musser of VandeMusser Design, PLLC that was hosted by Green Built Alliance in August of 2019.

NCBPA’s Role in Developing the Zero Energy Pathway

NCBPA is already working on a variety of elements that will support this pathway, including:

  1. Incorporating renewable energy, energy storage and electric vehicle “ready” requirements in the state’s next 2024 codes for commercial and residential buildings.
  2. Requiring that all new buildings receive an inspection, verification or rating by a qualified code official or approved third party that ensures functional energy code compliance to the current state code.
  3. Ensuring that all code stakeholders – Code Council members, code officials and other state employees that play a role in code – understand and act on increasing the energy efficiency of North Carolina’s codes.
  4. Advocating for the state’s current residential building code cycle to be changed from six years back to three years (commercial is currently three years) and aligning our state code with increasingly stringent national and international standards.
  5. Incorporating the use of Passive House design and construction principles and certifications into North Carolina’s residential and commercial building code requirements.
  6. Requiring energy ratings on all new residential units and full building commissioning for all commercial buildings.
  7. Standardizing how energy information is collected, reported and made visible to the market beyond energy consumption alone. Efforts to incorporate “the total cost of ownership” and measure-level life cycle costs into new and existing resources will help align the private buildings market with state goals to reduce carbon emissions, increase adoption of electric vehicles and decrease energy and water usage by 40% and 30% respectively through Governor Cooper’s Executive Order #80.
  8. Promoting net zero energy projects from member companies to help educate and inform consumers, architects, builders and industry stakeholders.

Key Resources:

NCBPA is working with the New Buildings Institute to create North Carolina’s pathway by leveraging resources and best practices developed through the Getting to Zero Forum.  These resources include the Getting to Zero Resources Hub that has over 200 documents on policies, schools, commercial design, residential, local governments, plus case studies.  The Getting to Zero Buildings Database allows you to look at zero energy verified and emerging projects by location, building type, ownership, and much more.

North Carolina Case Studies:

Articles and References: