News Analysis

Yay, Your Building Is Net Zero! Meaning … What Exactly?

ASHRAE 228 aims to replace the Department of Energy’s “gold standard” definition of net-zero energy—and it adds carbon to the mix.

Just when you thought you were safe, another big, bold net-zero standard has entered the house. But ASHRAE 228, Standard Method of Evaluating Zero Net Energy and Zero Net Carbon Building Performance, isn’t here to disrupt things. Instead, like any good standard, it just wants to bring us all together in a group bear hug—an embrace with the lofty goals of eliminating confusing marketing claims and modernizing the concept of a net-zero building to include greenhouse gas emissions.

There are already many net-zero-energy and net-zero-carbon labels for buildings in the marketplace, but they don’t all measure the same things. And there are more and more stretch codes (like the one in Massachusetts) that call for net-zero energy or carbon. So maybe think of that “hug” more as a set of braces to correct the market’s big, snaggle-toothed net-zero smile. Like braces, ASHRAE 228 will probably take years to align all the existing standards, but its developers hope that will be the end of it (until the standard gets updated through the maintenance process, of course—but that’s more like wearing a retainer at night after your braces are finally off).

Published June 12, 2023

Melton, P. (2023, May 18). Yay, Your Building Is Net Zero! Meaning … What Exactly?. Retrieved from