Net-Zero Energy Communities on the Rise

Incorporating high-performance thermal barriers and windows, efficient appliances and LED lighting, photovoltaic (PV) cells, and sometimes battery storage, net-zero energy (NZE) buildings are designed to use no more energy than they generate over the course of a year. In the residential space, NZE homes and communities are on the rise.

The latest example is from Utah, where on January 24, 2017 the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, Salt Lake City Sustainability Department, and other partners joined Living Zenith, Redfish Builders and Wheeler Machinery Co. (provider of PV systems) to cut the ribbon for the state’s first NZE community, Living Zenith at Liberty Park.

“The Living Zenith project is a further demonstration of Utah’s leadership on energy innovation, delivering solutions to advance energy efficiency, address air quality, and meet the demands of our growing population,” said Dr. Laura Nelson, the Governor’s energy advisor and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development. “We’re proud to promote Governor Gary R. Herbert’s collaborative spirit across industry to continue to elevate Utah’s high quality of life.”

Over two thousand miles away, in rural Waltham, VT, the McKnight Lane Redevelopment Project repurposed a defunct mobile home park into an affordable NZE rental housing community. Developed by the Addison County Community Trust and Cathedral Square, the modular homes were designed by Pill-Maharam Architects and built by VERMOD Homes. The PV-powered homes also include 6 kWh of smart batteries to provide resilience and enable the local utility to manage peak energy demand.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home initiative offers other success stories and resources for helping design and develop zero energy ready homes that are so efficient that a renewable energy system could offset all or most their annual energy consumption.  Recognizing the potential and opportunities, NASEO passed a resolution supporting advancing high-performance, zero ready and NZE building development and deployment. 

NZE and zero energy ready homes, buildings, and communities look to be a growing opportunity and market.