New Program Provides More Accessible Zero Energy Certification

July 27, 2017

How this classification hopes to multiply the number of net positive buildings.

In a rebranding effort to create a better market for zero energy buildings, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) will replace the Net Zero Energy program with the Zero Energy Building Certification.

The move from ILFI is a reaction to the small fraction of all buildings that are in its database for producing more renewable energy than the total energy they used over the course of the year.

“We want to get Zero Energy to be the new normal,” says ILFI CEO Amanda Sturgeon, who hopes ZE certifications will soon number into the thousands.

In early 2017, ILFI and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) formed a partnership to streamline the certification of zero energy buildings, as well as the development of a database. NBI has been tracking net zero energy buildings since 2000 and under this new criteria will administer a certification program that not only awards buildings that replenish all the energy they use but also those that achieve a net positive result.

The reboot launches partially as a result of improved solar, HVAC and lighting systems making zero energy attainable. At the end of 2016, NBI included in its database 53 buildings that were net positive and another 279 emerging buildings designed to achieve zero energy status but haven’t yet performed at that level for an entire year.

While 12 consecutive months of zero energy performance are still required, the Zero Energy Certification distances itself from the former program in requirements. The three Living Building Challenge Imperatives – Limits to Growth, Beauty, and Inspiration and Education – are no longer mandated, and a site audit is no longer required.  

Certification now runs $2,000 for a commercial property after a $900 application fee.

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