DOE Announces Better Buildings Zero Energy Districts Partnerships

Nov. 16, 2016
In a zero-energy district, the energy delivered to buildings annually is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.

As part of the Obama administration's effort to cut energy waste in the nation's buildings, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National League of Cities (NLC) today launched the Better Buildings Zero Energy Districts Accelerator.

In a zero-energy district, the energy delivered to buildings annually is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.

By 2030, 60 percent of the world's buildings will be newly built or reconstructed to support the growing population, creating an opportunity to develop communities that are more sustainable and use less energy.

"In American cities, developers, planners, building owners, and others are helping make our communities more efficient, saving money and reducing pollution," DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan said. "By committing to zero energy as part of their master-planning processes, these communities will create a road map for others to follow."

Accelerator partners commit to cost-effectively meeting zero-energy goals. The DOE supports each district's needs through technical resources and assistance with master planning. Through the Zero Energy Districts Accelerator, partners will work with the DOE to outline and refine best-practice approaches and address market barriers to achieve zero-energy adoption and document proven solutions for industrywide replication.

The following pledged to implement a detailed master energy plan and a business and governance model within three years and share with the market lessons learned:

  • Denver—National Western Center project and Sun Valley Ecodistrict
  • Huntington Beach, Calif.—Advanced Energy Communities
  • St. Paul, Minn.—Ford Twin Cities assembly-plant-redevelopment project
  • Fresno, Calif.—The Fresno Energy Performance District
  • Buffalo, N.Y.—Western New York Manufacturing ZNE District

"Cities are making major strides in transforming how modern communities will power buildings, transportation networks, and households, and the dream of zero-energy development could be closer than most people realize," Cooper Martin, program director of the Sustainable Cities Institute at the NLC, said.

In addition to the NLC, the DOE is collaborating with the Rocky Mountain Institute, the U.S. Green Building Council, and EcoDistrict to support districts in achieving their energy goals. Such institutions already are working to provide partners with a suite of tools and solutions addressing barriers to building zero-energy districts.

The Better Buildings Initiative encourages collaboration between public- and private-sector organizations across the country, with the overarching goal to make commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings 20 percent more energy-efficient over the next decade.