What Are Zero Net Energy Homes & Buildings?

Apr. 18, 2019

Whether you are just beginning to consider reducing your carbon footprint with solar, or you have already invested in clean and renewable solar energy, you may have encountered terms like “net zero energy,” “zero net energy,” or “zero energy.” We often use these terms in the solar industry because solar energy plays a key role in achieving zero net energy.

But what is a “zero net energy” home or building, exactly, and how does solar play a role? As you move forward toward greater sustainability and carbon neutrality, this is what you need to know about zero energy.


Understanding Zero Net Energy & Zero Energy

A net zero, or zero energy, home or building is able to generate as much (or more) energy onsite than the total amount of energy it consumes. This is made possible through a combination of energy efficient design and clean, renewable energy sources like solar.

Zero net energy homes and buildings have energy efficient design features which minimize energy needs — like an airtight building envelope, premium insulation, energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, advanced window technologies, and LED lighting. Once a home or building is consuming as little energy as possible, renewable energy like solar can then offset the energy it does consume.

When you consider the fact the net zero homes and buildings not only are more sustainable but also tend to be more durable, healthier, and more comfortable than conventional homes and buildings, it’s no wonder that the zero net movement is so rapidly on the rise.


Zero Net Energy vs. Carbon Neutral

While the terms “zero net energy” and “carbon neutral” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note that the term “carbon neutral” has a somewhat looser definition. While “zero net energy” or “net zero energy” typically means that renewable energy is being produced onsite, “carbon neutral” can refer to renewable energy that is generated elsewhere. If a homeowner purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset the fossil fuels their house consumes, for example, that house may be considered carbon neutral.


Solar Energy Makes Zero Energy Possible

Many homeowners and businesses who wish to achieve zero net energy look to solar for their energy needs. This is because a solar PV system produces clean electricity using readily available solar energy — helping offset the energy a home or building does consume. Solar also comes with options like battery storage, helping you get even more from your solar energy system.

Zero energy homes and buildings will play an important role in our reduced carbon future.  From state initiatives like California’s impending requirement for solar roll into effect, the zero energy movement will only continue to rise. In fact, California alone could soon see 100,000 new zero energy homes every year once solar panels become a requirement on newly-built homes.

Here in Massachusetts, our state’s Department for Energy Resources has set up a Zero Net Energy Advisory Council working towards the vision for universal adoption of zero net energy buildings by 2030 with a $3.5 million pathways program.

If you have questions about how installing solar panels can help you achieve a “ zero net energy” or even “zero carbon” designation, get in touch with the team at Boston Solar. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand how an investment in solar can benefit your home or business.


Learn more about how an investment in solar can help you achieve zero net energy. Call 617-858-1645 or contact us to talk to a solar expert!

What Are Zero Net Energy Homes & Buildings?

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