Zero-energy home building report shows segment's continuing growth

Zero-energy home building report shows segment's continuing growth

The report, which tracks various phases of zero-energy home building, represents a 59 percent increase over the prior year's inventory.

September 9, 2019

The market for residential zero energy buildings continues to show growth across the U.S. and Canada, according to the new Zero-Energy Residential Buildings study recently released by the Richmond, California-based Team Zero (formerly the Net Zero Energy Coalition). The organization, which is a partnership between several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, aims to build awareness about and access to the value of zero-energy and zero-carbon homes.

The report documents 22,146 units that are either in the design, construction or operation phases, representing a 59 percent increase over the prior year's inventory. These include single-family and multifamily projects that are working to achieve zero energy or zero energy-ready performance. In addition, there are another 31,000 additional residential units in the planning stages that are not included in the current count.

“It’s still very small market penetration, but we believe we’re at the bottom of a very steep bell curve,” said Richard Willingham, the chair of Team Zero, during a recent webinar following the release of the report.

A net zero-energy building produces as much renewable energy as it consumes over a year, Team Zero says in a news release. It typically has low energy demand and is powered by solar panels either onsite or nearby. Zero energy-ready homes have energy efficiency performance and with the addition of renewable energy sources would be brought to full zero-energy levels.

This study, now in its fourth year, works to answer questions about the viability of zero-energy homes in different markets, climates and political jurisdictions.

Dindings of the study include:

  • More projects are seeking zero-energy performance with integrated renewables. The report shows a 7.2 percent increase in the number of projects pursuing zero energy over zero energy-ready (73.8 percent versus 21.7 percent in 2017, now 66.6 percent versus 29 percent, respectively).

  • California is leading in number of projects (6,828), and New York is in second place (3,022). The Southwest is a stronghold with California, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas claiming a total of nearly 9,600 units.

  • Canada saw a 240 percent increase in the number of zero energy units over 2017. A city or region's dominance is often driven by a single project, Team Zero says.

  • Multifamily projects now represent 71 percent of the total zero-energy residential stock. Although multifamily zero energy has shown steady gains over single-family since the first inventory in 2015, this is a substantial increase over 2017 (60 percent). In Canada, multifamily is even more dominant than in the U.S., with 90 percent of its zero energy units in multifamily projects, versus 67 percent in the U.S.

Recently, Grand View Research Inc. of San Francisco forecasted $78.8 billion of growth in the global zero-energy building market by 2025.

"It is an amazing movement that is happening in the marketplace. A lot of it is driven by codes and a lot of it being driven, thankfully, by builders and developers that want to get out in front of things. They see zero energy as a proposition that differentiates them in the marketplace. That is one of our drivers," says Geoff Ferrell, chief technology officer of Prescott, Arizona-based Mandalay Homes. The company is one of the major builders of zero-energy homes with 23 projects totaling 1,159 units.

“Just building to code and doing what we’ve done for the past 100 years isn’t going to get it done,” Ferrell continues. “Eventually, it’s going to be to the detriment of those builders who don’t want to get out in front of it."