Energy Upgrades for Existing Buildings

GOAL: Annual energy upgrade rates to 3% or more of the existing building stock

Transforming the building sector to zero carbon by 2050 will require a significant increase in the rate and depth of existing building energy efficiency renovations and the generation and procurement of renewable energy (energy upgrades).  Traditionally, energy performance is regulated for newly constructed or significantly renovated buildings but does not apply to existing buildings. Because of this, current energy upgrade occur voluntarily at an annual rate of 0.5-1%.  In order to transition a majority of the building stock to ZNC by 2050, energy upgrade rates must increase to 3% or more annually starting now.

Achieving Zero proposes to accelerate building energy upgrades by introducing policies that are triggered at additional intervention points.  These may include points where buildings undergo transactions, major capital improvement cycles, zoning or use change, materials and equipment replacements, or resiliency upgrades (e.g., seismic, flooding).  Aligning policies to these existing market-driven activities will help mitigate the cost barriers and disruption associated with additional construction, as well as catalyze an expanded market for building upgrades that will stimulate sustained increases to local jobs, market growth, and tax revenue.


  • Enact policies, regulations, and financing mechanisms for incremental building energy upgrades triggered by building intervention points.
  • Permit a grace period for building energy upgrade compliance that is sufficient to promote alignment with capital improvement cycles; such as major renovation, maintenance and equipment replacement, asset reclassification, and life safety or natural hazard mitigation.
  • Integrate policies and regulations to reduce GHG emissions when addressing energy, equity and/or resilience upgrades.

© Architecture 2030