Adam Joseph Lewis Center For Environmental Studies from

Adam Joseph Lewis Center For Environmental Studies from

Definition taken from

A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Zero energy buildings are autonomous from the energy grid supply – energy is produced on-site. This design principle is gaining considerable interest as renewable energy is a means to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings use 40% of the total energy in the US and European Union.


This can be measured in different ways (relating to cost, energy, or carbon emissions) and, irrespective of the definition used, different views are taken on the relative importance of energy generation and energy conservation to achieve energy balance. Although zero energy buildings remain uncommon in developed countries, they are gaining in importance and popularity. The zero-energy approach is promoted as a potential solution to a range of issues, including reducing carbon emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Most ZEB definitions do not include the emissions generated in the construction of the building and the embodied energy of the structure which could be seen as invalidating the claim of zero energy. So much energy is used in the constructon of a new building that this can dwarf the energy saved over its useful life. The definitions below provide a useful clarification of how to further classify zero energy buildings, and show that a zero net energy building can still be improved upon.

A building approaching zero energy use may be called a near-zero energy building or ultra-low energy house. Buildings that produce a surplus of energy during a portion of the year may be known as energy-plus buildings. An energy autarkic house is a building concept where the balance of the own energy consumption and production can be made on an hourly or even smaller basis. Energy autarkic houses can be taken off-the-grid.