In Focus: Zero Energy Buildings 0

Now, that green building practices have been accepted by the global construction industry, the field is moving forward to the next frontier.

Zero energy buildings produce as much energy as they consume, resulting in the use of zero energy.

Revenue from zero energy buildings will grow rapidly over the next 20 years, reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035, projects Pike Research.  That’s a compound annual growth rate of 43%.

Much of that growth will be in the European Union, where near- zero energy buildings are mandated by 2019 for public buildings, and by 2021 for all construction.

The final language for the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive – which governs building energy codes – is still being worked out, but it clearly will drive significant investment in zero energy building technologies over the next few decades.

Similar regulations have come into effect or are being discussed in the US and Japan.

“Following the surge in LEED and other green building certifications worldwide over the last few years, zero energy building has emerged as the ‘holy grail’ in green building design,” says research analyst Eric Bloom. “Technically, zero energy building design is feasible for many building types in many regions, but concerns about the upfront cost continue to impede it in the market.”

While the technologies required to make zero energy buildings possible, such as efficient lighting and HVAC systems, improved insulation, solar photovoltaic and other systems, can add significant upfront cost, advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will improve system performance and reduce costs.

The construction industry is already developing products and services to meet demands for zero energy building and ensure compliance with new regulations.

In May, TD Bank opened a “net-zero energy” branch in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Only eight buildings in the US are registered as net-zero energy with the Department of Energy (DOE), and TD Bank is the first to register a net-zero energy commercial bank.

In 2010, DOE awarded $76 million from the Recovery Act to support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects and the development of training programs for commercial building equipment technicians, building operators, and energy auditors.  $23 million of that was allocated for Advanced Building Control Strategies, Communications, and Information Technologies for Net-Zero Energy Buildings.

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