The ZERO Code: Zero Net Carbon Buildings

GOAL: A zero carbon building sector by 2050

In order to meet the goal of a decarbonized building sector by 2050, policymakers must embrace a standard for all buildings: new and existing, large and small, and appropriate for any location including dense urban areas where most of the U.S. and global construction will take place over the next two decades. This is the foundation for a Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) building standard, which is defined as:

a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.

Achieving Zero proposes the use of ZNC as the standard for all new construction and existing buildings. ZNC provides flexibility for jurisdictions to define locale-specific thresholds for minimum energy efficiency and renewable energy, based on alignment to existing building energy codes and future upgrades or decarbonization rates.  Jurisdictions should use this flexibility to set policies with incremental compliance targets, targeting a full transition to a zero carbon built environment by 2050.


Adopt energy policies for New Construction by the following dates:

2020 Incentivize voluntary performance-based codes for Zero Net Carbon
2030 Adopt performance-based codes for Zero Net Carbon

Adopt energy policies for Existing Buildings by the following date:

2020 Implement incremental building energy upgrade policies that transition all buildings to Zero Net Carbon by 2050

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