A Pathway for Net-Zero Energy Buildings: Creating a Case for Zero Cost Increase

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30 Scopus Citations


LLC (Alliance) is the manager and operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Employees of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 with the U.S. Dept. of Energy have authored this work. The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a non-exclusive, paid up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes.

To have market relevance and gain widespread market adoption, zero energy buildings (ZEBs) will need to be designed and constructed cost-effectively, and preferably without additional costs. An approach was developed to create low-energy buildings without additional construction costs such that it yielded innovation in building technology and integration by the market. A case study of the implementation of this method is presented to provide a data point that ZEBs can be built with zero cost increase. Documenting cost-control best practices and packaging those strategies for adoption by the commercial building sector will help make the business case for ZEBs for mainstream construction and promote market uptake of the innovative technologies and design approaches needed. The holistic implementation of cost-control strategies will enable ZEBs to be designed and constructed on a typical budget. The current state of ZEB economics is evaluated and a path forward is proposed for greater market penetration of ZEBs. By demonstrating how to combine ZEB technologies and design approaches into an overall efficiency package that can be implemented at minimal (zero, in certain cases) incremental capital cost, the domain of ZEB design and construction can be expanded from a niche market to the commercial construction mainstream.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Alliance for Sustainable Energy

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-62780


  • cost
  • energy efficiency
  • net-zero
  • passive design
  • project management
  • sustainable design
  • systems approach


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