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New Era of Efficiency: Net-Zero Buildings


From multitenant office buildings to mixed-use developments, new net-zero energy buildings — buildings that produce at least as much energy as they use on an annual basis — are popping up coast to coast. Though they are still a small percentage of new construction, several factors are converging to move net-zero energy buildings from myth to materiality: Increased expertise in the field, more government and utility incentives, the drop in the cost of photovoltaics panels, greater efficiency of same, and a general willingness by many organizations emerging from the Great Recession to try something new and innovative.

But, of course, there remains resistance. According to Jamie Qualk, vice president with SSRCx, the commissioning arm of consulting and engineering firm Smith Seckman Reid, the skeptics are those who are averse to change, those who don’t see how cost, payback and technology can come together practically, or those that have fallen victims to the myths about net-zero energy buildings.

So it’s time to do some myth-busting — to look at three of the main hesitations about net-zero energy buildings — and explain why those myths exist and why they may not be true.

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