EBC Annex 52 Towards Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings

This is a joint project with IEA Solar Heating and Cooling (Task 40)

Status: Completed (2008-2014)

Operating Agent: Josef Ayoub, Senior Planning Advisor, CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada
Email: NetZeroBuildings[at]nrcan.gc.ca

Website: task40.iea-shc.org



Energy use and emissions from buildings include both direct, onsite use of fossil fuels and indirect use from electricity, district heating/cooling systems and embodied energy in construction materials. Given the global challenges related to climate change and resource shortages, much more is required than incremental increases in energy efficiency. Currently, a prominent vision proposes so-called "net zero energy", "net zero carbon" or "EQuilibrium" buildings. Although these terms have different meaning and are poorly understood, several IEA countries have adopted this vision as a long-term goal of their building energy policies. Prior to this project, what was missing was a clear definition and international agreement on the measures of building performance that could inform "zero energy" building policies, programs and industry adoption.


The objective of the project was to study current net-zero, near net-zero and very low energy buildings and to develop a common understanding, a methodology, tools, innovative solutions and industry guidelines. A primary means of achieving this objective was to document and propose practical NZEB demonstration projects, with convincing architectural quality. The projects has aimed to equalise their small annual energy needs, cost-effectively, through building integrated heating/cooling systems, power generation and interactions with utilities.

Sample NZEB: Steinhude Sea Recreation Facility, Steinhude, Germany.
Photo credit: Peter Hubbe

The outcome of the project support for the conversion of the NZEB concept from an idea and a 'slogan' into practical reality in the marketplace. Demonstrating and documenting real projects also lowers industry resistance to adoption of these concepts.

The joint international research and demonstration activity has addressed concerns of comparability of performance calculations between building types and communities for different climates in participating countries. The goal was to achieve solution sets that are attractive for broad industry adoption.

The scope includes major building types (residential and non-residential), existing and new, for the climatic zones represented by the participating countries. The work has linked to national activities and focused on individual buildings, clusters of buildings and small settlements.

Sample NZEB: Environmental Technology Center at Sonoma State University, CA, USA.


Research Areas


Analysis, Methodologies & Large-Scale Implications

Energy Efficiency and Energy Supply, Simulation and Tools

Advanced Concepts, Architecture and Design for Non-Residential and Residential Buildings



Case Studies

A Net Zero Energy Buildings Database is complete, which profiles net zero energy residential and commercial buildings from around the world, including buildings that were designed to be zero energy and buildings that actually achieve zero energy. *Interested parties are invited to submit their own zero energy residential or commercial building to be included in the database*. The database is part of the High Performance Buildings Database, which lists many additional projects.


Case studies, and a supporting sourcebook, guidelines and tools.

Participants: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA
Observer: the Netherlands



Source Book Volume 1: Net Zero Energy Buildings: International Projects of Carbon Neutrality in Buildings
Karsten Voss, Eike Musall, Detail, 2nd Edition,2012 
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Source Book Volume 2: Modelling, Design, and Optimization Net Zero Energy Buildings
Andreas Athienitis, William O’Brien, Wiley, 2015
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Source Book Volume 3: Solution Sets for Net Zero Energy Buildings - Feedback from 30 Net-ZEBs Worldwide
Michael Donn, Francois Garde, 2014

LCE analysis of buildings - Taking the step towards Net Zero Energy Buildings
Björn Berggren, Monika Hall, 2013

Analysis of Load Match and Grid Interaction Indicators in NetZEBs with High Resolution Data
Jaume Salom, Anna Joanna Marszal, José Candanedo, Joakim Widén, Karen Byskov Lindberg, Igor Sartori, 2014

Measurement and Verification Protocol of NetZEBs
Federico Noris, Assunta Napolitano and Roberto Lollini, 2013