THE MOVE TOWARD NET ZERO ENERGY BUILDINGS - Experiences and Lessons from Early Adopters

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“To create this kind of construction, you need to be passionate about the project, well informed and courageous. Energy efficiency in buildings is about attitude – the attitude to invest money.”, stated the CEO of a net zero energy hotel in Vienna. Start early, seek advice and stay engaged were the three take away messages from interviews with owners and net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) project managers. The Institute for Building Efficiency met with 11 new-construction and major retrofit projects to understand the motivations, the challenges, and the keys to successful projects. Among the insights: - Owners were driven by a mix of traditional motivators – cost and resource savings, occupant well-being and environmental responsibility – along with a desire to show what is possible with technology and with the right ideas and innovations. - Challenges included local regulations, skepticism about the concept, perceptions of high cost, and communication of the concept to regulators and building occupants. - Integrated design, involving multiple parties at the earliest stages, was critical. - Owners must understand the technologies and systems available, as the choices significantly affect budgets and schedules. - Creating and communicating a compelling vision around the NZEB building helps to ensure buy-in from stakeholders, especially the building’s users. Occupants who become “green champions” can help buildings meet their net zero energy objectives.