Net Zero Energy and Green Buildings

Clock icon Created: April 1, 2020

The WorldGBC definition of a net zero carbon building is a “building that is highly energy efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources”.

It is considered that going forward, all the buildings should target ‘Net Zero Energy / Carbon’ to achieve Paris Agreement levels of global emission reductions. So, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) has created a project called “Advancing Net Zero project” that is dedicated to supporting market transformation towards 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050, and other Green Building Councils across the world are participating in the program.

The below infographic from WGBC highlights the Advancing Net Zero project’s key target dates, definition for net zero carbon buildings, the action pathways being taken by GBCs, and the key principles that are guiding their actions.

As part of the action from the participating Green Building Councils, several Net Zero Building Certification programs are being developed to encourage the building developers/operators to participate in achieving the goal of WGBC ‘100% of buildings must operate at net zero carbon by 2050’. Here are the Net Zero Certification programs developed by the Green Building Councils:

  • Green Building Council in France: “E+C- Bâtiment à Énergie Positive et Réduction Carbone”.
  • Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC): “Zero Carbon Building Standard”.
  • GBC Brasil: “Zero Energy Standard”. 
  • Australian Federal Government: “National Carbon Offset Standard for Buildings”.
  • Green Building Council of South Africa: “Net Zero Certification Programme”.
  • USGBC: “LEED Zero”.
  • DGNB: “Framework for Carbon Neutral Buildings”.
  • UKGBC: launched a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings in the UK.

LEED Zero is one of the widely recognised Net Zero Certification programs across the globe which is developed by USGBC and certified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). USGBC has developed LEED Zero, a complement to LEED that verifies the achievement of net zero goals:

  • LEED Zero Carbon recognizes buildings or spaces operating with net zero carbon emissions from energy consumption and occupant transportation to carbon emissions avoided or offset over a period of 12 months.
  • LEED Zero Resources
    • Energy recognizes buildings or spaces that achieve a source energy use balance of zero over a period of 12 months.
    • Water recognizes buildings that achieve a potable water use balance of zero over a period of 12 months.

Waste recognizes buildings that achieve GBCI’s TRUE Zero Waste certification at the Platinum level

Our Experience with Net Zero Energy Projects

Salimus Consultancy has been fortunate enough to assist with Net Zero Energy projects in MENA region. We are currently working in an upcoming project in UAE, Saint-Gobain Multi-Comfort House which is a model NZEB developed by Saint-Gobain to promote their Energy Efficient and Environment-Friendly products. We facilitate the Integrative Design Process and assist the Client and Designer to select appropriate systems and design elements to achieve the Net-Zero target.

Does Net Zero Energy Have Cost Impact? 

US Department of Energy demonstrates that high-performance NZE design is possible on budgets similar to those of traditionally constructed buildings. What are some of the strategies that can lower costs and ensure NZE?

  • Assemble a qualified project team including the contractor. Use of experienced subcontractors early in the design process can help to ensure that your cost guidelines are being met. 
  • Utilize performance-based procurement to strike a balance between budget, energy savings and other benefits.
  • Consider cost shifting. Money spent on energy efficiency measures can be saved in the reduced size and capacity of the mechanical systems.
  • Consider life cycle cost impacts when designing. 
  • Maximize the usage of repeatable, modular design strategies during the design phase. 
  • Investigate local incentives (utility and tax rebates) and alternative financing options for higher-cost construction projects.