Local Goals and Community Benefits

Beyond State goals and mandates, pursuing ZNE efforts align with other local government priorities including responsible energy management, energy resilience and security, and climate action planning. By reducing energy demand, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and increasing renewable energy production, ZNE buildings help reduce GHG emissions which can improve local air quality and public health. Additionally, many of the passive design elements of ZNE buildings have other sustainability and resource conservation benefits such as reducing water demand for cooling. Some definitions of ZNE also include transportation and incorporate transit planning into building planning efforts. ZNE buildings can increase community resilience during natural disasters, as many have on-site renewable sources.

A graph showing energy bill net savings for occupants living in a ZNE building.

A graph showing energy bill net savings for occupants living in a ZNE building | Source: Rocky Mountain Institute

While ZNE buildings serve as a key strategy to achieve State and local goals to reduce GHG emissions and reach other sustainability and resource conservation targets, tangible benefits are created for building occupants and the surrounding community. Some benefits include improving:

  • Health and well-being: Many ZNE techniques (such as greater use of sunlight and insulation) improve occupant comfort, happiness, and even employee productivity. Cleaner energy and reduced GHG emissions can improve local air quality and public health.
  • The local economy: The push for ZNE buildings drives local job creation, particularly for construction and design industries.
  • Standard of living: ZNE buildings are less vulnerable to energy spikes and leads to overall lower utility costs for occupants.
  • Community resilience: Having on-site renewable energy generation or energy storage allows for buildings to maintain power in the event of natural disasters or extended blackouts.