Feds want ‘zero-energy’ building standards

The Department of Energy (DOE) wants regulators and the private sector to agree on standards for zero-energy buildings.

In a notice due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, DOE asks the public for input on a variety of questions about standards.

Specifically, DOE wants to know how the public feels about how to define zero-energy buildings, how to designate buildings that meet various standards and how to set guidelines that could help governments, private companies and others in constructing and recognizing the buildings.

The agency did not say that it plans to set its own standards for zero-energy buildings.

“A broadly accepted market definition of [zero-energy building] boundaries and metrics is foundational to efforts by governments, utilities, or private entities to recognize or incentivize zero energy buildings,” the agency wrote.

DOE wants the industry and regulators to agree on standards that could be useful both for the industry and for DOE’s own programs to track or incentivize zero-energy buildings, it said.

When the notice is published, DOE will also publish a draft document as a starting point for the public comments.

Architects, builders and suppliers have not yet agreed on industry-wide standards for zero-energy buildings, though many definitions have been proposed.

The industry and regulators have generally agreed that a zero-energy building produces as much energy as it uses, but they disagree over issues such as how it is measured, how to define “zero” and how emissions play into calculations.