Districts & Communities

The Zero Energy Districts Accelerator aims to address barriers and develop replicable solutions to designing, building, and operating advanced energy districts that include efficient, resilient, cost-effective buildings and infrastructure. Below are project profiles from six Accelerator district partners. These projects have been pursuing different aspects of Zero Energy District master planning.

Energize Fresno

Location: Fresno Business District, California
Size: Approximately 5 square miles
Building types: Retail, community center, industrial, education, commercial, and residential

Energize Fresno is an Advanced Energy Community project in the business district of Fresno, California. Through an 18-month master planning process, the project leaders identified an “Energy Opportunity Zone” that would comprise 15 building projects and other developments. Project goals include greater resilience, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and cost saving.

Huntington Beach Advanced Energy Community

Location: Huntington Beach, California
Size: 1 square mile
Building types: Multifamily, community center, industrial, education, and commercial

Located in the Oak View neighborhood, the Huntington Beach Advanced Energy Community will bring new technologies to existing infrastructure and buildings, with the goal of zero energy across the district. Planners are looking to address grid reliability and resilience with innovative technology and to reduce energy costs for residents.

Key Energy Opportunities

  • Pursuing dramatic energy upgrades for a disadvantaged community
  • Aiming to address grid modernization concerns such as the “duck curve” with battery storage and fuel cell integration, which can minimize utility ramp rates and level energy demands.

Western New York ZNE District

Location: Buffalo, New York
Size: 148 acres
Building types: Offices and light manufacturing
Building square footage: 93,000 square feet for the first building; total district area to be determined

Planned for the former site of a Bethlehem Steel plant, the Western New York ZNE District will host a large, zero energy, light industrial building to serve as a “lighthouse project” to attract more zero energy development. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency hopes to make this building the largest zero energy manufacturing facility in the state as part of a larger manufacturing commerce park.

Key Energy Opportunities

  • Pursuing zero energy for light manufacturing building
  • Potential for on-site wind because of proximity to Lake Erie.

Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant Redevelopment Site

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Size: 135 acres
Building types: Small, medium, and large multifamily residential, office, retail, civic, and limited industrial

Located on the former site of a Ford Motor Co. factory, the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant redevelopment site aims to become a mixed-use zero energy district over a 15- to 20-year period. The city has developed a master plan for the space, and Ford Motor is seeking a master developer to purchase the land for redevelopment.

Key Energy Opportunities

  • St. Paul has one of nation’s largest district thermal systems in its downtown area and is exploring the potential to add a next-generation system on the Ford site.
  • It has potential for aquifer thermal energy storage.

Sun Valley EcoDistrict Trust

Location: Denver
Size: Approximately 100 acres
Building types: Multifamily housing, office, retail, and events centers
Building square footage: 1.6 million square feet

The Sun Valley neighborhood in Denver is the city’s lowest-income area. With the nonprofit Sun Valley EcoDistrict Trust (SVED) as master developer, the area will become a zero energy district featuring redeveloped public housing for its 1,500 residents. SVED plans to develop the district energy system over a 10-year period.

Key Energy Opportunities

  • Planning to build ultra-efficient public and low-income housing that can achieve zero energy
  • Through a request for qualifications, seeking district utility partners that will contribute to SVED’s goals for Sun Valley.

National Western Center

Location: Denver
Size: 250 acres
Building types: Event centers, arenas, offices, and education
Building square footage: 2.8 million square feet

The National Western Center is located on the historic grounds of the Denver Union Stock Yard Co., which hosts the annual National Western Stock Show. The redevelopment project will transform the area, doubling its footprint, with the goal of creating a sustainable, multipurpose campus that attracts visitors year-round.

Key Energy Opportunities

  • Potential for district-scale sewer heat recovery
  • Possibility of advanced building controls that adapt to used and unused event space
  • Large rooftops available for solar photovoltaics.