In fact, ASHRAE’s “Vision 2020” is to have the pieces in place to build and operate net-zero buildings ready in ten years, so that they can be phased in over the remaining decade.
Is it possible?
In the February issue of Building Operating Management, about a half a dozen net-zero buildings that exist today are featured. They depend heavily on solar power for energy and daylighting to minimize lighting needs. These are also smaller buildings that have a high ratio of exterior surface devoted to solar panels.
But the fact that the net-zero goal is even possible today with current technology, suggests the technologies under development might be closer to practical application for buildings of all types and sizes than we may realize.
The good news is that in even pursuing the net-zero goal, buildings can make incremental energy improvements along the way. We may not be at net-zero for all buildings in ten, or even twenty, years, but pursuing such a lofty goal creates the momentum to make significant inroads in energy reduction.