A new zero net energy plan designed to “help California commercial building owners take advantage of the latest technologies and financial incentives to help reduce building energy use to `net-zero’ through greater efficiency and on-site clean energy production” kicked off in California this week. The plan is being pushed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
To date, according to the CPUC, California has more net zero commercial buildings than any other state. The goal of the 2010-2012 Zero Net Energy Action Plan is to push these numbers even higher, implementing California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which identified these types of buildings as one of the state’s Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies (BBEES).These BBEES goals reportedly will save an estimated 2,056 MW, avoiding the need for four new 500 MW power plants.
Zero net energy buildings are defined by the CPUC as having a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year, typically offset by on-site solar, wind, and other renewable energy resources generating the energy necessary to fully power the structure. It is hoped that by moving more buildings towards net zero status, building owners will better be able to manage energy costs and become more energy independent. This is an important goal in a state where about five billion square feet of commercial building space accounts for 38 percent of the state’s power use and more than 25 percent of the state’s natural gas consumption.
“This is an innovative action plan to transform the state’s commercial buildings into clean energy powered, energy-efficient structures by 2030,” said CPUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich in a statement. “Zero net energy isn’t just a big, bold goal – it’s a reality today. By tapping into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that made California the largest builder of zero net energy buildings in the nation, this action plan will succeed.”