The green building movement is targeting a goal once thought virtually unattainable: zero net energy use.
While the trend is nascent, dozens of “net zero” and “near net zero” developments — projects designed to use only about as much power from the public grid as they can save or produce on their own — have sprung up across the U.S. over the past five years…But a bigger shift toward net-zero construction faces hurdles, largely because such buildings often are more expensive to build. To reach zero energy use, for instance, a building needs to produce its own power such as through solar or wind. Rooftop solar panels can cost upward of $10,000 on a three-bedroom home alone.However, some industry analysts say the costs of erecting net-zero homes have declined somewhat as green building has become more mainstream. With energy costs more than doubling across the U.S. in the past decade, energy-savings measures have become more attractive to builders… And U.S. officials are working to wean federal buildings off fossil fuel by 2020, a step they say will help the buildings become almost net-zero energy users. Behind the push is the fact that buildings are a major consumer of power, accounting for an estimated 40% of energy usage in the U.S.
By Jim Carlton, Dec 24, 2009 WSJ