Hundreds of zero energy building (ZEB) pilots are being developed to showcase technology solutions and create high-performance buildings across a variety of residential and commercial facilities as governments, corporations and individuals seek ways to minimize the carbon footprint of their buildings. In fact, Navigant Research predicts that global ZEB revenue will grow from $629.3 million in 2014 to $1.4 trillion by 2035.
Although the global outlook for ZEB is strong, the market will start slowly.
While several pilots are trying to prove the investment savings in lower energy bills, a stronger driver for the adoption of ZEBs, which use as much energy over the course of a year as it generates from onsite renewables, is regulation. The variety of definitions of a ZEB (also called net zero energy buildings and, in the European Union, nearly zero energy buildings) and the lack of a single standards body to identify what success looks like create noteworthy challenges.
“The global zero energy building market has many pockets of potential growth, but challenges remain in defining what exactly a ZEB is, as well as raising awareness of the increasing accessibility of these solutions,” said Noah Goldstein, research director with Navigant Research. “The strongest driver for this market is regulation, as policies like the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and California’s evolving Title 24 building code bring ZEB markets into being for new commercial, new residential, and retrofitted commercial spaces.”
The technology and equipment associated with the building envelope are developing rapidly, reducing the soft costs associated with ZEBs, according to the report. New developments in building envelope materials, along with innovative manufacturing techniques for windows and glazing, should help lower the energy use intensity of buildings. This focus on improved envelopes is expected to aid the greater building ecosystem, reducing energy costs for non-ZEBs, as well.