Net-zero energy building to become $1.3 trillion market

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Buildings that produce all the energy they need, or net-zero construction, will grow into a $1.3 trillion market by 2035.

Buildings that produce all the energy they need, or net-zero construction, will grow into a $1.3 trillion market by 2035. Click on the image to learn more about net-zero and this project in Yamhill County. (Rendering courtesy of Holst Architecture.)

With green building becoming mainstream, the next big thing for the industry is in the realm of net-zero: buildings that produce all the energy they need.

Pike Research released a report this week indicating that net-zero construction will become a $1.3 trillion global business by 2035, driven largely by demand from Europe where zero-energy requirements are increasingly becoming required by building codes.

In November, the Northwest-based Living Future Institute launched a new certification for net-zero buildings in an effort to share best practices among designers and builders

Eric Bloom, Pike Research's building industry research analyst, said he sees a strong role for such certifications as net-zero energy construction catches on in the U.S., similar to the role that the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification played in green building.

"The purpose of the certification program was to cut through the greenwashing that was going on with green building," Bloom said. "As (the net-zero certification program) gains more implementation, it will become important."

While there may be a community of early adopter builders and designers in the U.S., Bloom sees states including California and Massachusetts leading the way in the U.S. in terms of bringing the building code closer to a net-zero standard. He also expects to see policy makers lead the push toward zero-energy construction.

Eden Brukman, vice president of the Living Future Institute, said one California building is already moving through the organization's Net Zero Energy Building Certification program. The certification is based on the institute's Living Building Challenge. The Net Zero certificate is basically a scaled back version of the Living Building program, which also emphasizes qualities such as local sourcing and water recycling.

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