What is a Net-Zero Building?

In general, the concept is very simple. Net-zero status requires that a building produces as much energy as it consumes. In order to be certified, the building must maintain net-zero status for one year.

Related- How and Why High Performance Buildings Are Changing the Industry

In practice, the concept really works. DPR Construction built a new net-zero facility for their employees in San Francisco. In their original building, their electric bill averaged $3,500 a month. In their new net-zero facility, the first month’s electric bill was $19 and $22 the second.


So how does all of this happen? Working closely with your architect and GC is key. Site selection and orientation are extremely important. It is important for the building to naturally optimize on solar gain in the winter and reject it in the summer. Strategically orienting the building so that it is positioned for optimal lighting can help to reduce electric and heating bills.

Related- The Benefits of LEED Certification

The next step is to ensure that the building envelope is well-insulated and can retain treated air. There are various MEP systems for energy efficient ways of heating and cooling a building which should be explored. It’s important to make all members of the project team aware of the net-zero goals. In order to achieve net-zero, new, unfamiliar equipment will likely be installed. Users have to know what the goal is and get the required training to make the project successful.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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