Zero-Net Energy Buildings, California's Latest Real Estate Trend

Many commercial builders in California, including the civic/government sector of San Diego, are currently embracing self-sufficient, zero-net energy buildings. These are buildings that on an annual basis use equal or less amounts of energy compared to the amount of renewable energy created on site. 

One of the most notable ZNE structures is the Alpine Library in San Diego. This library is now ZNE certified and includes a lot of interesting sustainable assets to it. A heating and cooling system that is powered by solar power through a photovoltaic paneled roof, and a sensor controlled lighting system are examples of how the Alpine Library was able to receive its certification.

The state of California is really pushing the initiative into increasing the number of sustainable buildings. Many agencies in the state have adopted plans of 100% new and 50% existing buildings to be ZNE certified by the year 2030. Currently the state of California has a total of 77 commercial buildings that are either ZNE certified or close to achieving that goal. Higher education facilities within the state have also embraced this latest movement by creating campus sustainability goals.

ZNE buildings do create some challenges for contractors though. These structures can be quite costly and are challenging to develop, especially when trying to earn the ZNE certification. In the long run, these buildings seem to be worth the risk. For a building to be able to create its own energy while simultaneously being environmentally friendly is truly astounding. It will be exciting to see how these ZNE buildings will fare in California, and if this trend will eventually spread nationally.

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Written by Fronstreet Intern Nicholas DeMasi