Thursday, July 21, 2011

Net Zero Homes

Every two years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) releases an Integrated Energy Policy Report in which it makes recommendations for energy policy in the state. In its 2007 report, CEC recommended adjusting these policies to require net-zero-energy performance in residential buildings by 2020 and in commercial buildings by 2030.  A "net zero energy" building is one that consumes only as much energy on an annual basis as can be generated with an on-site renewable energy system.

The challenge? While the net zero concept does not ban any energy-using product, it does require "compensating offsets." For example, a new home could still have a decorative gas fireplace but will need to show additional solar panels to offset that energy use. In addition, the Code does not recognize or address zone heating (as with gas appliances) or solid fuel, wood or pellet appliances.

This is not just a "California problem." Code writers in Boulder, Colo., have also attempted to incorporate the net zero concept, and others are likely to follow. HPBA staff and leaders are following the issue closely and working with allies to determine the appropriate response plan. 

Please look for similar standards to appear in your state. This is an issue that will impact our association and we need to be aware of any other happenings. If you are currently aware of any comparable standards for buildings, please notify us right away.