The strategies on these pages—from passive design to efficient equipment choices—show that zero energy design can be achieved with familiar techniques and using off-the-shelf technologies. And it doesn’t have to cost more, either. Although there are many strategies to consider, the underlying principle is simple: make the building as efficient as possible so that onsite renewable energy is minimal and affordable.

Building Envelope & Architectural Considerations

There are a number of architectural features to consider when designing a zero energy building, including building orientation, fenestration, outdoor surface reflection, shading, and interior finishes.

Passive Design Techniques

These strategies allow buildings to maintain a comfortable environment by capturing daylight, ventilation, heating, and cooling naturally, without relying on energy-consuming building equipment.

HVAC Systems

Achieving a zero energy HVAC system involves strategic planning among the designer, owner and construction teams to meet heating and cooling requirements while remaining energy efficient.

Lighting & Daylighting

This design strategy leverages natural sunlight to provide controlled, quality lighting while offsetting electrical lighting loads, saving energy, and reducing cooling efforts.

Plug Load Management

Plug loads typically consume over one third of commercial whole building energy. As building become more efficient, plug load energy has become a critical component in achieving aggressive energy targets and net zero status. The resources provided here can help building owners implement plug load energy reduction strategies and meet their plug load energy targets.

Kitchen Equipment & Design

As one of the most energy-hungry spaces in a building, a kitchen that operates efficiently requires careful consideration of appliances, design, and ventilation.