News Analysis

Cost Premium of Net-Zero Not Far from LEED Platinum

Finding cost premiums as little as 5% over LEED Platinum, a new report highlights how D.C. can incentivize net-zero and Living buildings.

A recent analysis suggests making the jump from LEED Platinum to net-zero energy costs less than one might think, requiring just a 5%–10% first cost premium for a new commercial building. The study also evaluated premiums associated with net-zero water and Living Building Challenge certification and recommended policy changes that could make these standards more achievable.

Reaching for higher levels of performance

Tasked with investigating how to improve building performance in the District of Columbia, which already leads the nation in the number of LEED buildings per capita, researchers from Skanska, the New Buildings Institute, and the International Living Future Institute conceptually transformed three LEED 2009 Platinum buildings in Washington, D.C., to net-zero-energy, net-zero-water, and Living Building Challenge certification. The results show that even in buildings designed to achieve LEED’s highest rating, there is room to cut predicted energy use intensity (EUI) and water use dramatically. For example, applying added energy conservation strategies—such as ground-source heat recovery, plug load circuit separation, and adding insulation to the roof—reduced the modeled EUI of a LEED Platinum renovated office building from 67 to 31, according to the report.  

Published June 1, 2014