DOE Wants Zero-Net Energy Commercial Buildings Available by 2025

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency David Rodgers announced the launch of a new Zero-Net Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) with establishment of the National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies (NLCBT).

These two efforts both focus on the DOE’s efforts to develop marketable Zero-Net Energy Commercial Buildings that use advanced efficiency technologies and on-site renewable energy generation to offset their energy use from the electricity grid by 2025.

The announcement was made at the California Clean Tech Open, a competition that supports innovative and sustainable new businesses that focus on energy efficiency, smart power, renewable energy, transportation, green building technologies, pollution control and resource management and is sponsored by five national labs: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State.

“DOE’s Commercial Building Initiative and the Collaborative are urgently needed to accelerate innovation and market adoption in the field of high performance buildings,” Rodgers said. “Now we are bringing to bear the unprecedented collaboration in scientific resources of five National Laboratories to bring about the needed transformation of the built environment, lower our carbon footprint in buildings and accelerate commercial deployment of clean, efficient building technologies.”

In 2005, commercial buildings used 18 percent of energy in the United States and accounted for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The Zero-Net Energy CBI plans to make new commercial buildings capable of generating as much energy as they consume available by 2025. Energy generation will be achieved through advanced energy efficiency technologies and on-site renewable energy generation systems, such as solar power and geothermal energy.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorizes the Department to collaborate with the private sector, DOE’s National Laboratories, other federal agencies and non-governmental organizations to advance high-performance commercial green buildings. DOE’s Building Technologies Program will support High Performance Green Building activities in EISA 2007, including:

  • Technology research and development;

  • Sponsorship of pilot and demonstration projects across multiple climate zones;

  • Provision of technical assistance to encourage widespread technology adoption;

  • Development of training materials and programs for builders;

  • Public education on the need for efficiency in new and existing buildings;

  • Work with code-setting bodies to ensure technologies are properly deployed;

  • Analysis of incentives for builders, landlords, and tenants to ensure that cost-effective investments are made on a life-cycle basis; and

  • Development of a means for measurement and verification of energy savings.

This new NLCBT will enable the labs and DOE to work closer on research, validation and commercialization priorities critical to the success of zero-net energy buildings.

NREL, in its capacity as a DOE-sponsored national laboratory, is providing US $100,000 to the California Clean Tech Open on behalf of the DOE/ NLCBT to facilitate initiation and development of a green buildings award category under the competition.

The High-Performance Green Building activities laid out in EISA 2007 represent an extension of DOE’s existing accomplishments in building research, development and deployment — including partnerships with American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, U.S. Green Building Council; and the American Institute of Architects to develop Advanced Energy Design Guides for 30 percent Energy Savings, more than 110,000 copies of which have been distributed through DOE’s partners.

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