100% Net Zero Buildings by 2050: Can We Do It?

Jul 21, 2016

What Does Net Zero Mean?

The U.S. Department of Energy states that a ‘net zero’ or Zero-Energy Building (ZEB) is “an energy efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.” In other words, the building generates more energy than it uses. If the building’s renewable systems produce more energy than the building needs, the excess transfers to the grid. Conversely, when they under-produce, the building draws energy from the grid.

The World Green Business Council’s 2050 Goal

On June 28th, the World Green Business Council announced a bold goal—for all buildings to be ZEB by 2050. The Advancing Net Zero initiative builds on the organization’s December 2015 commitment at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to cut the one-third of CO2 emissions that come from buildings. In coming years, expect to see action plans from participating Green Business Councils to develop national net zero certifications. These Green Business Councils will also develop ZEB training for building professionals.

Taking Action

Companies in the construction industry can prepare now. Some first steps include:

  • Join the S. Green Building Council, and share member resources such as LEED courses and webinars with employees.
  • Have key employees participate in ZEB trainings, such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ session on commercial buildings or the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s online course for homes.
  • Include renewable energy targets into standards for new construction projects.
  • Recruit new hires graduating from the Net Zero Plus Electrical Training Institute.
  • Check out additional resources available through the Net-Zero Energy Coalition.

Investing in Renewable Energy

While energy efficiency is important, ZEBs need to generate renewable energy. Southwire offers a suite of products that net zero buildings can use to collect and transfer renewable energy from wind and solar systems back to the grid when they over-produce. These include photovoltaic wire, solar and wind collection cables, transmission and substation products, and accessories and support.

Interested in learning more about our renewable energy solutions? Click here.