Building Energy Technology: Net Zero Energy Building Task Force

Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems

Potential zero net energy buildings in Massachusetts. Picture courtesy of Dr. Peter Engelmann

Project Motivation

In 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick created the Massachusetts Zero Net Energy Building Task Force to develop a series of recommendations towards creating universal adoption of zero net energy buildings - highly efficient structures that use renewable sources to generate as much as or more energy than they consume - in the Commonwealth by 2030. 


The ZNEB Task Force drew on 70 experts working in various building and energy-related industries, and included representatives from utilities, architectural and engineering firms, universities, local and state government, asset management.  


Getting to Zero

Over the course of a year, the Task Force evaluated and discussed hundreds of ideas and proposals aimed at increasing adoption of energy-efficient buildings in Massachusetts. As a member of the Task Force, Fraunhofer CSE offered insights from a scientific as well as technical perspective, drawing on research work conducted at MIT and by our counterparts in Germany. 


The Task Force's final report, "Getting to Zero", examining potential barriers to a widescale deployment of net zero and near-zero buildings, and contained a detailed list of findings and policy recommendations. Four particular core recommendations were: 


  • Adopt an evolving set of minimum energy performance standards for buildings that to drive continuous improvements in energy efficiency
  • Begin developing means of collecting and evaluating energy performance data for buildings
  • Create incentives to reduce financial and regulatory barriers to ZNEB adoption
  • Create a workforce development program to create the skilled labor needed to deploy ZNEBs and related services


The report also identified several state-owned buildings that could be converted into ZNEBs to create an effective public-sector demonstration project.  


Further Information