Net-Zero Energy & Renewables

U.S. Department of Energy (public domain)

Net-zero energy use is the ability of a building to supply its own energy over the course of a year by using renewables (typically onsite renewables, though some definitions include offsite procurement).

Alternative energy sources like photovoltaics are becoming more affordable, increasing the possibility that a building project can achieve net-zero energy. And as more buildings use renewables along with storage technologies, there are opportunities to harmonize with the grid and use more renewable energy from there as well.

Net-Zero Energy & Renewables

Deep Dives

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  • Counting Carbon: Understanding Carbon Footprints of Buildings

    Feature Article

    Everyone seems to be talking about measuring carbon footprints and designing carbon-neutral buildings, but these terms mean different things to different people. Some focus just on operating energy, while others also look at transportation, materials, and other building-related emissions. As with so many things, the results depend on what you count and how you count it.

  • Is Nano a No-No? Nanotechnology Advances into Buildings

    Feature Article

    Nanotechnology takes advantage of the novel properties that particles can exhibit at a billionth of a meter in size. Those properties are being used in building materials, where they can improve thermal performance and the effectiveness of photovoltaics, among many possibilities. The field has little regulation, however, despite significant health and environmental concerns.

  • The Challenge of Existing Homes: Retrofitting for Dramatic Energy Savings

    Feature Article

    Greenhouse gas emissions associated with residential energy use account for a fifth of all emissions in the U.S. Retrofitting existing houses to achieve a two- to three-fold reduction in energy use is necessary if we are to achieve the emissions reductions scientists say are required for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Here's a look at how it can be done.

  • In the Pipeline: District Energy and Green Building

    Feature Article

    Very common in northern Europe, district energy systems use a network of buried, insulated pipes to distribute centrally produced steam, hot water, or chilled water to heat or cool multiple buildings. These systems can make use of waste heat from power generation (combined heat and power) or renewable fuel sources to help reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and communities.

Quick Takes

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Product Guidance

Unbiased information from our product experts helps you separate green from greenwash.


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  • Measuring Solar Access with the Solmetric SunEye

    Product Review

    The SunEye is an easy-to-use, digital tool for measuring solar shading and calculating daily and monthly solar access on building sites.

  • Climate Energy Brings Combined Heat and Power Home

    Product Review

    The idea of combining electricity generation with the production of useful heat-referred to as combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration-has long been attractive. Now, after many false starts, a viable residential-scale CHP system is about to enter the market.

  • Wind Turbines on the Parapet

    Product Review

    AeroVironment, Inc., is introducing a new approach to small-scale wind generation that takes advantage of the rush of wind as it crests a building's facade.

In The News

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Perspective

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Learning Resources

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Just For Fun

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