DOE Pursues Zero-Net Energy Commercial Buildings

August 5, 2008

DOE launched the Zero-Net Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) on August 5, with the goals of developing new commercial buildings that produce as much energy as they use and making these buildings marketable by 2025. Such zero-net energy commercial buildings will minimize their energy use through cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies and will meet their remaining energy needs through on-site renewable energy generation. To help with the CBI, DOE has also formed the National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies (NLCBT), which will allow DOE and five of its national laboratories to work closely on the research, validation, and commercialization priorities that are critical to the success of zero-net energy buildings. Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be working together under the NLCBT.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President Bush in December 2007, authorized DOE to collaborate with its national laboratories, other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to advance high-performance commercial green buildings. With help from the NLCBT, DOE's Building Technologies Program will carry out the intent of that act through the new CBI and its existing partnerships, including such efforts as developing new technologies, sponsoring pilot and demonstration projects, providing technical assistance, developing training materials, working with organizations that set building codes, analyzing incentives, developing ways to measure energy savings, and educating the public. In 2005, commercial buildings accounted for 18% of U.S. energy use as well as 15% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

The new initiative and collaboration were announced at the California Clean Tech Open, a competition that supports innovative and sustainable new businesses which focus on energy efficiency, smart power, renewable energy, transportation, green building technologies, pollution control, and resource management. NREL is providing $100,000 to the California Clean Tech Open on behalf of DOE and NLCBT to facilitate initiation and development of a green buildings award category under the competition. See the DOE press release and the Web sites for the DOE Buildings Technologies Program and the California Clean Tech Open.