Every year, New Buildings Institute (NBI) digs into its extensive Getting to Zero Buildings Database and analyzes the information collected from thousands of low-energy projects across the United States and Canada in order to offer the market an official count of zero energy (ZE) buildings and related trends. ZE is defined as ultra-low energy projects that consume only as much power as can be generated onsite by clean, renewable resources. However, this definition is evolving to consider multiple buildings in a campus or neighborhood that use a larger, central solar array.
The official 2019 count is 580 certified, verified, and emerging projects, according to the new 2019 Getting to Zero Project List from NBI. That is a 10-fold increase since NBI started tracking buildings in 2012. Growth in the count is confirmed by reported plans to invest in zero energy buildings over the next 10 years, according to Johnson Controls’ 2018 Energy Efficiency Indicator Study.
Clay Nesler, Vice President of Global Sustainability and Industry Initiatives at Johnson Controls, presented the findings during a recent webinar, and explained that of their customers surveyed, “61% of U.S. respondents are very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly zero, net zero, or positive energy or carbon status within the next 10 years.”
“That is an amazingly high number considering if we had asked this question only four years ago, we probably would have been in the single digits,” Nesler said. “Qualitatively if we look at our data over the past five years, the trend toward net zero energy and carbon buildings is advancing twice as fast as we saw with green building certification. It is in fact, the key trend driving investment,” he said.
In addition to the Zero Energy Project List, NBI released a new online tool that offers users access to information about the ZE buildings on the list and shows where they’re located on a map. The dynamic database allows searches on location, size and building type, and generates charts and graphics conveying the appropriate information.