California Observes Progress Toward Statewide Zero-Net-Energy Goal

Sept. 15, 2016
California has a goal of having all new commercial construction be ZNE by 2030. Currently, 17 buildings are verified ZNE and 91 are working toward that target.

California currently boasts 108 new and renovated commercial buildings that are either verified zero-net-energy (ZNE), meaning they generate as much energy as they consume, or working toward that goal, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission, and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) recently announced.

The California Energy Commission’s 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report and the CPUC’s 2008 Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan established a goal of having all new commercial construction in the state be ZNE by 2030.
 Currently, 17 buildings are verified and 91 are working toward that target. The count was made official via the recently released California ZNE Watchlist, which tracks ZNE commercial buildings, including multifamily projects and buildings with ultralow energy performance comparable to ZNE.

The Watchlist is funded via the CPUC and developed by NBI.

California has moved steadily toward creating the necessary infrastructure to help design firms and owners realize ultralow-energy buildings.

“To save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and get the highest performance and value from all homes and buildings, California has set a course to achieve zero net energy in residential and commercial buildings in the next two decades,” CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman said. “Zero-net-energy buildings are possible today, and as a leader in clean energy, California is well-positioned to make zero net energy standard practice. We are excited to share this milestone highlighting progress toward the state’s goals.”

California Energy Commission Commissioner Andrew McAllister added: “The best way to create a high-performing building is to design and build it that way in the first place. The California Energy Commission recently adopted the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. When these go into effect in 2017, new commercial and residential buildings will have better windows, insulation, lighting, air-conditioning systems, and other features that reduce energy consumption. The number of buildings on the Watchlist will only continue to grow.”

Projects on the ZNE Watchlist vary broadly in size and location across the state, with offices and education buildings leading the count.

“Zero-net-energy performance is a clear and tangible aspirational goal for buildings that translates directly into operational savings for building owners and represents direct action on climate change,” Ralph DiNola, chief executive officer of the NBI, said. “That is why we are seeing so much activity in the education sector.”

Special attention is being paid to growing momentum behind reducing energy in K-12 schools and at community colleges. Schools built and renovated to ZNE performance have substantially lower energy costs and over time save money on energy bills.

The effort to meet Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s ambitious ZNE goals also extends to state-owned buildings, as California has adopted an administrationwide definition of ZNE construction and building.

For more information about California’s progress on ZNE, read the ZNE WatchList or sign up for the ZNE Action Bulletin.