U.S. DOE Definition of Zero-Emission Buildings: A Blueprint for Decarbonization and Sustainability

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U.S. DOE Definition of Zero-Emission Buildings: A Blueprint for Decarbonization and Sustainability

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the second part of its federal definition of zero-emission buildings, providing crucial guidance for decarbonization efforts in both new and existing structures. This initiative aims to align with public and private sector climate goals while advancing sustainability in the built environment.

Part 1 of the definition focuses on administrative emissions from energy use, setting standards to evaluate a building’s emissions from operational energy consumption. According to the DOE’s guidance, qualifying buildings must demonstrate exceptional energy efficiency, absence of on-site strong greenhouse gas emissions from energy usage, and reliance solely on fresh energy sources. This mandate ensures that both on-site and off-site energy derive from renewable sources.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm underscored the importance of this initiative in clarifying guidelines for stakeholders, supporting decarbonization efforts, and catalyzing investments in cutting-edge clean energy technologies. With these measures, the DOE aims to enhance the affordability and sustainability of America’s built environment, paving the way for a greener future.

DOE Announces National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building | EC&M

Definition of Zero-Emission Buildings: DOE’s Blueprint for Energy Efficiency and Emissions Reduction

The U. S. has nearly 130 million existing buildings that cost over$ 400 billion a year to heat, cool, light and power, the DOE said. By 2050, an extra 60 billion square feet of corporate space are expected to be constructed, per the release. The department claimed that defining what constitutes a zero-emission building would help the country meet its climate goals, lower energy costs for businesses and homes, and increase market certainty and clarity regarding zero emissions in new construction and retrofits.

White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi made the initial announcement regarding plans to define what constitutes a “zero-emissions” building in September. At the beginning of this year, the DOE sought input from industry stakeholders when creating a draft version of this definition. Responses to its request for information, the department said, would serve” as a clear market signal and consistent target, backed by measurable data, to help move buildings toward zero emissions goals”

In April, DOE released a federal blueprint laying out actions that can be taken to slash U. S. building emissions 65 % by 2035 and 90 % by 2050, compared with 2005 levels. The blueprint also aims to reduce energy used on- site in buildings 35 % by 2035 and 50 % by 2050, compared with 2005 levels. New and existing buildings can help the country achieve zero emissions thanks to significant technological advancements in energy efficiency, heat pumps, and fresh energy, according to the department on Thursday.

Defining Zero-Emission Buildings: Part 1 Criteria and Standards for Energy Efficiency

According to the document outlining part 1 of the definition, embodied carbon, fluid use, grid interactivity, indoor air quality, and electric vehicle support equipment can improve human health and reduce climate impacts while lowering utility costs and increasing resiliency to climate change. Therefore, the definition is” not a substitute for the standards and certifications that public and private parties have developed for natural buildings and energy efficiency,” the document states.

To meet the second pillar of the definition, being energy efficient, existing buildings must satisfy selected criteria. These include achieving an Energy Star score of 75 or higher, or, if the building is not eligible for an Energy Star score, at least 35 % less than the building’s median EUI for buildings of that category, according to the document. Furthermore, a building can ensure its energy use intensity is less than the EUI specified in the latest version of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 100, Energy and Emissions Building Performance Standard for Existing Buildings,” for buildings of that type and location”.

However, new buildings must satisfy one of three requirements, the document says. Among these are ensuring that the projected energy use of the entire building is at least 10 % below the model code, being able to obtain an Energy Star score of 90 or higher, if applicable, or being certified in the most current version of the Energy Star Residential New Construction Program or Zero Energy Set Homes program.

Zero-Emission Building Definition: Criteria for On-Site Emissions and Fresh Energy Sources

Zero on-site emissions from energy use is a key component of the next pillar, which requires ensuring that strong greenhouse gas emissions from energy use similar zero, according to the document. But, emergency backup generators, which need to be used when grid power is absent, are excluded from this requirement, according to the document.

As much as GHG emissions from those sources are at or near zero, the second pillar of the definition calls for ensuring that all energy used by the building is fresh energy. This can be achieved by any combination of on- and off-site sources. For instance, if a building uses a district energy system to heat or cool it, that district energy must be produced from fresh sources, according to the DOE. Additionally, it advises maximizing on-site clean energy before purchasing off-site fresh energy.

The release of the regional definition’s part 1 has received praise from ASHRAE. In a statement released on Thursday, ASHRAE President Ginger Scoggins stated that” ASHRAE is pleased to be recognized and have our mentioned standards recognized as guiding tools in this important milestone to combat climate change by decarbonizing the built environment.”

” The Biden Administration, perhaps more than any previous administration, recognizes the tremendous role that buildings play in our lives and our environment”. Peter Templeton, president and CEO of the U. S. Green Building Council, said in another statement Thursday.

The definition will be crucial in establishing a common understanding of what it actually means to be a building with zero operating emissions, according to Templeton. ” As financial institutions, investors, and insurers grapple with climate risks, we see the baseline established by this definition as key to evolving market expectations”

A Federal Definition of Net Zero Emissions Buildings - IMT

Resume: U.S. Department of Energy Defines Zero-Emission Buildings to Drive Decarbonization

  • The second section of a federal definition of a zero-emission building, released by the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday, will serve as guidance for decarbonization efforts in both new and existing buildings and help advance public and private sector climate goals.
  • Part 1 of the definition addresses administrative emissions from energy use, setting standards to assess whether a building produces no emissions from energy used for building operations, according to the DOE. According to a guidance document released by the DOE, buildings must be among the most energy efficient, free of on-site strong greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, and powered entirely by fresh energy. This requires that all on-site and off-site energy used in the building must come from fresh energy sources, &nbsp.
  • ” With today’s announcement, DOE is helping bring clarity to our public and private sector partners to support decarbonization efforts and drive investment—paving the way for the cutting- edge clean energy technologies we need to make America’s buildings more pleasant and affordable”, U. S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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