Net-Zero Technologies Increasingly Embraced & Advanced by Governments

Originally published by: Clean TechnicaDecember 3, 2014

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With a global focus on reducing energy consumption continuing to grow and increase in importance, many methods of “going green” are beginning to receive increased attention. A new analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that one of these concepts gaining prominence is the net zero–energy building. A net zero–energy building, in theory, generates as much renewable energy as is necessary onsite.

The primary takeaway from the Frost & Sullivan analysis is that government funding is the main driver of net zero–energy building (NZEB) technology uptake, with Europe leading the way in terms of funding available for NZEB technologies.

The flipside of this finding is that funding is almost entirely limited to governments, as the “lack of awareness on the benefits of NZEB technologies among end users and investors” are limiting funding from elsewhere.

“While governmental or regional funding are the main drivers of NZEB technologies, public-private funding is the most effective in sustaining the application of the NZEB concept and advancing its development globally,” noted Technical Insights industry analyst Jennifer Tan. “To attract public-private funding, governments need to educate end users on the advantages of NZEB technologies and implement relevant policies and building codes.”

The analysis, Enabling Technologies for Net Zero-Energy Buildings–Funding Analysis, also found that in an attempt to reach more end users, market participants need to ensure their NZEB technologies are able to offer an “attractive return on investment.”

“Besides choosing the entry mode strategically, NZEB technology providers should introduce solutions that align well with investors’ plans and expectations for the future,” added Tan. “Essentially, investors are expecting to have renewable energy fulfilling the remaining energy needs, to make buildings NZEB-ready as well as seeing more cost-effective and investment-worthy technologies being developed. Existing investors are also hoping for more investors to avail more funding and support to small businesses in the forthcoming years.”

Many examples of net zero-energy cases exist, including this project from the US National Institute of Standard and Technology. The project created a net zero-energy home and ran the house for a year to determine the feasibility of such technologies. In the end, the residence achieved a goal of net-zero consumption and even managed to create a surplus of 491 kWh.

Beyond net zero–energy buildings, there are also zero-energy communities, dating back to at least 2010. The Illinois community discussed at that link took advantage of solar power and LEED Platinum design to achieve the zero-energy designation. Furthermore, the homes in the community were affordable homes, with rent coming in at just $590 per month.