Absolute Zero: U.S. is Closer to Building Zero-Net Energy CommunitiesGovernment Technology, November 12, 2014
Doing more with less — it’s an axiom the public sector has heard for years. Usually such a call to action is based on rising demand and limited budget. But it also describes what is achievable when communities take committed action to reduce energy consumption. Serious efforts to reduce energy use is leading to the ultimate doing-more-with-less goal — achieving zero-net energy (ZNE) communities. This vision encompasses homes and commercial buildings that use on-site systems and renewable sources to generate at least as much energy as they consume.
ZNE development has so far been expressed primarily in individual projects — a single residential development here, a single commercial building there. Now, cities are looking at how to extend ZNE goals from individual sites to large-scale developments and even entire communities.
At the same time, the nation’s soft energy infrastructure is undergoing change as government regulations are accelerating the move to ZNE development. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission set a goal for all new residential construction to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial buildings by 2030.