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December 2020
Zero Energy-verified Commercial Buildings More Than Double Since 2018
NBI's 2020 Getting to Zero Buildings List of pioneering zero energy (ZE) projects represents the latest growth in an expanding market with nearly 700 verified and emerging projects. ZE buildings are ultra-low energy, with a median site energy use intensity (EUI) of 23 kBtu/sf/yr*, and consume only as much energy as is produced with renewable energy resources such as solar photovoltaics. As policies and programs advance, designers and building owners continue to seek ever-higher levels of performance and environmental stewardship. In this list, compiled annually by NBI, projects are listed with ZE performance that have been certified by a third party or verified with performance data. These trailblazing buildings, portfolios, districts, and campuses have demonstrated that getting to zero energy design and operation is feasible in every climate, market sector, size, and building type across the U.S. and Canada.
Inaugural Midwest buildings list counts 63 emerging and verified projects
The 2020 Midwest Getting to Zero Buildings List tracks commercial and multifamily zero energy (ZE) building projects across 13 states. This inaugural regional buildings list shows the status of ZE projects in the Midwest, spotlighting high performance design and construction practices, including Passive House standards. The 63 projects listed demonstrate ZE feasibility iand are helping move the needle toward a low-energy and low-carbon future.
The 2021 IECC’s Circuitous Path to Conclusion
It’s been nearly two years since proposals were due into the International Code Council’s (ICC) system for consideration in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). That doesn’t include the time proponents spent considering and drafting proposals for submission. In all, the efficiency stringency of the code was increased by at least 10%, but the final disposition of the 2021 IECC was only just concluded on Oct. 8. 

Typically, a code development cycle follows a predictable schedule. But the 2021 IECC took a diversion between the online governmental consensus vote (OGCV) and the new edition being published. If you’ve been following along with NBI through this process, you’ve seen our past blogs on challenges (3/12/20) and appeals (7/28/20) that were filed by opponents following the results of the OGCV. This backlash to the results of the outcome of the online vote has been fierce and unprecedented. 
Bringing Heat Pump Water Heaters into the Mainstream

Water heating is responsible for nearly 20% of residential energy use and 14% of commercial use in the United States. While more efficient products are available on the market, they have yet to gain significant market share. The Advanced Water Heating Initiative (AWHI) is working to change that by sparking growth in the United States.

Over the past two years, more than 40 organizations have joined the Advanced Water Heating Initiative in a multi-year effort to overcome barriers and catalyze a transition to a robust heat pump water heater (HPWH) market. The market transformation initiative is an effort of NBI in collaboration with Northwest Energy Efficiency Association and Bonneville Power Administration, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Southern California Edison in the West, and the Midwest Building Decarb Coalition in the Midwest. AWHI convenes utilities, government agencies, manufacturers, researchers, advocates, and building industry professionals to share knowledge and develop strategy and work products toward its goal. The AWHI is based on decades-long experience with partnerships to bring transformative change to refrigerators, lighting, motors and HVAC.
Hear from leaders working to transform the heat pump water heater market

Thursday, February 11, 2021 | 10-11:00 am PST/ 1 -2:00 pm EST
Does the Changing Policy Landscape Pit Efficiency Against Renewables?
With cities and states pursuing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and national calls to decarbonize the grid by 2035, does efficiency still matter with a clean grid? The first answer: Yes, energy efficiency benefits are, as they have been for decades, delivering lower energy costs to homeowners and businesses and creating opportunities for utilities to avoid expensive development of new generation transmission and distribution resources. Put simply, when buildings demand less energy, utilities can build smaller capacity renewable energy plants, reducing capital costs and keeping customer energy prices affordable.

The second answer: It depends. Jurisdictions and utilities need to evaluate the opportunities that fit within their climate action plan goals and understand their capacity to make change. Codes, policies, market investment, and market activation are common mechanisms for transformation. The “Getting to Zero” energy and carbon approach includes a strategic balance between energy efficiency, renewable energy, grid integration plus storage, and fuel decarbonization.
Put simply, when buildings demand less energy, utilities can build smaller capacity renewable energy plants, reducing capital costs and keeping customer energy prices affordable.
Building Performance Standards Are a Powerful Solution to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Existing Buildings
With more than 87 billion square feet of commercial floorspace across the U.S., building performance standards (BPS) have emerged as a policy approach with tremendous potential to address energy use in existing building stock. In a series of three blogs, NBI offers an overview about why reducing the carbon footprint of existing buildings is critical, provides clarity around the terminology and mechanisms used in BPS policy, and details some of the ways in which BPS can be leveraged to improve public health outcomes, increase building resilience, create jobs, and strengthen the economy.
Implementing Building Performance Standards: Consistency Is Key
A building performance standard (BPS) provides a powerful solution for cities working to meet climate goals, achieve energy savings, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a forward looking policy for existing buildings, a BPS commits a city or state to a long-term, high-performance standard (i.e. energy or carbon intensity) with interim targets that ratchet up over time.
Improving Health and Resilience Through Better Building Design
The reality is more than 21.2 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of year-round particulate pollution, according to the latest “State of the Air” report. Long-term exposure to unhealthy air can trigger respiratory problems, which can compound other health symptoms such as those resulting from COVID-19. Electrification is growing in popularity because it has the potential to mitigate health and environmental risks caused by fossil fuel-based power generation, save consumers money in the long run, and enable better grid-building management during times of peak energy use.
Reduce Carbon in Existing Buildings and Put America Back to Work
There  is an opportunity to address both the economic and climate challenges we face with stimulus plans that jumpstart the post-COVID economy. These investments would transition the built environment to a clean energy, low-carbon future and promote healthier work and living spaces. Those working or studying from home have likely become tuned-in to the ways in which things like temperature control, fresh air, and daylighting impact daily moods and productivity.
Join National Grid for a December Webinar on Zero Net Energy Buildings

Zero Net Energy Commercial Forum
Tuesday, December 8, 12-1:00 pm EST / 9 - 10:00 am PST

This National Grid webinar will feature commercial case study projects that feature deep energy savings and zero net energy designs. Hear about the progress regional architecture firms are making in meeting the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment and find out how to engage with the program to transform the practice of architecture. A local design team will present a zero net energy case study, sharing the design process, technologies, and cost control practices implemented to achieve the high performance building.

Zero Net Energy Residential Forum
Tuesday, December 15, 12-1:00 pm EST/ 9 - 10:00 am PST

In this National Grid webinar, residential designers will present zero net energy projects involved in the National Grid Rhode Island zero net energy pilot program. NBI will detail the process, technologies, and strategies needed to achieve deep energy savings and zero net energy designs. BriggsKnowles Architecture and Design and One Neighborhood Builders will present the Sheridan Small Homes zero net energy case study, sharing the design process, technologies, and cost control practices implemented for a high performance home.
New Awards Program Spotlights All-Electric Building Innovation in San Mateo County
Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) and New Buildings Institute have launched a new awards program spotlighting all-electric building innovation across San Mateo County in Northern California.

The All-Electric Leadership Awards and Directory invites designers, builders, developers and owners of all-electric, high performance residential and commercial buildings in PCE’s service area to submit projects for consideration in its inaugural leadership award. Projects will also be included on an ongoing basis in an online directory that tracks and showcases local projects.

The deadline for 2021 award submissions is December 11, 2020.
New Guide Focuses on Energy Efficiency in Critical Multifamily Sector

NBI Senior Project Manager Sean Denniston was principal investigator, working with TRC, on a research and development effort resulting in the ASHRAE Design Guide For Low- To Mid-Rise Multifamily Residential Buildings. ASHRAE and Sean spoke about the research project in a recent article in the ASHRAE Journal.

“This research explores codes, standards and best practices to help designers and practitioners achieve high performance, such as better energy efficiency and improved indoor environmental quality, in these buildings,” Sean Denniston said.
View on-demand: Getting to Zero in Affordable Multifamily Housing
Low-income communities are most at risk of being left behind as local jurisdications pursue ambitious carbon reduction goals. This webinar features presenters from The Community Preservation Corporation and Association for Energy Affordability, who share challenges, lessons learned, and actual cost data from successful zero energy affordable multifamily projects. Multifamily case studies cover new construction, deep energy retrofits, getting to zero in hot-humid climate zones, and more. ASHRAE presents on the new AEDG zero energy multifamily guide.

Every other year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) welcomes energy industry professionals from around the world to its Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Centered on the theme “Efficiency: The Core of a Clean Energy Future,” the 2020 virtual conference included 430 papers13 panel discussions, three plenary sessions, and ACEEE’s annual Champions of Energy Efficiency Awards. Staff from NBI contributed to eight papers, either as lead authors or co-authors, that were accepted into the conference proceedings and included as supplemental research for panel discussions.
NBI In the News
Architect Magazine, 11/19/20
Zeroing In on Net-Zero Energy Buildings, Commercial Property Executive, 10/18/20
Upcoming Webinars and Partner Events:
Event schedules around the COVID-19 outbreak continue to change. We present here the most current information as of publication. Please continue to visit these partner websites for updates.
Webinar | December 10, 2020
Join us to hear Cathy Higgins and Alexi Miller, NBI co-authors, share the results from The Building Electrification Technology Roadmap (BETR): A BETR Path to Decarbonization for California Efficiency Programs. BETR was developed to support and accelerate increased adoption of highly efficient electric technologies that displace low-efficiency electric and natural gas technologies. The presentation will include the first public overview of the three key areas of BETR: 1) characterizing existing and up-and-coming electrification technologies; 2) identifying roadblocks to adoption, and 3) providing targeted, near- and long-term actions needed to support building electrification.

Don't miss Alexi Miller and Cathy Higgins in this presentation.
Virtual | February 9-11, 2021
The 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Winter Conference will take place in a convenient, online format February 9-11. Attendees can join live discussions with top experts, learn the latest updates relating to COVID-19, and have access to 90+ technical sessions for 18 months.

Don't miss Kim Cheslak and Jim Edelson for their session: The Technical Basis Of Building Performance Standards.
In-person | March 1-3, 2021
The Annual Conference on School Facilities is CASH’s largest annual event and draws more than 2,000 school facility professionals from around California. Full conference registration includes access to more than 70 concurrent education sessions, three general sessions, trade show with 200+ exhibitors and the NextGen Experience simulated classroom space.

Reilly Loveland will be presenting: School Design Strategies Having the Highest Impact on Student Achievement.
Virtual | March 10-11, 2021
The 2021 Hot Water Forum Virtual will be held over four days with more than 15 breakout sessions on cutting-edge technologies, system design, programs, and policies. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and fellow professionals in all sectors. New to 2021 will be the opportunity to watch demonstrations on the latest products, technology, and system designs.

Amruta Khanolkar and Ralph DiNola will be presenting in sessions: The Hot Water Battery--Emerging HPWH Technologies and Grid Connectivity, and Carrots and Sticks in Hot Water--The Heat Pump Water Heater Policy & Program Rodeo.
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