Zero Energy Design

Response to DOE Request for Feedback on New Zero Emissions Building Definition

The document provided by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia includes the responses submitted to the Department of Energy following the request for information on proposed national definition of a zero emissions building.

To review the document, please visit here.

According to the Center on Global Energy Policy,

Section A: Overall

Are the draft criteria clear and appropriate for the definition of a zero emissions building? Should any other criteria be considered for Part 1? Please provide specific feedback about this draft definition. 

The goal of establishing a national zero emissions building definition is an essential step toward meeting aspirations to minimize greenhouse gas emissions associated with the US building stock. In its present form, aspects of the draft criteria are not sufficiently specific to meet the goals set out in the draft. 

The definition would benefit from clarification and further specification of several key terms. As stated in the draft, Part 1 aims to define buildings that conform to zero on-site operational greenhouse gas emissions. The present state of the definition would preclude the inclusion of buildings that make use of net-zero greenhouse emissions energy sources, such as biogas or renewable natural gas. These fuels have the potential to be net-zero carbon across their lifecycle even though they emit carbon dioxide at the point of combustion.