Thanks to their energy-efficient design and energy offsets, Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings, which produce as much energy as they consume over the course of a year, help reduce our reliance on natural resources and provide greater resilience to climate-related impacts and natural disasters.

California—an early leader in the ZNE movement—has more buildings approaching ZNE than any other state in the nation. California-based GreenPoint Rated is actively engaged in helping the state advance its goals by offering new pathways to achieving ZNE.

California’s Zero Net Energy Leadership

California’s building energy efficiency standards are among the most progressive in the nation. To date, California leads the country in the number of buildings closest to Zero Net. The state is continuing its leadership by advancing the following goals:

  • Developing a voluntary tier for ZNE in the 2016 CALGreen code. The definition and approach for this standard are currently being evaluated.
  • Setting bold goals to achieve ZNE for all new residential buildings by 2020 and for all new commercial (and 50% of existing commercial) structures by 2030.
  • Providing technical assistance and incentives for owners and design teams through programs like California Advanced Homes (residential) and Savings by Design (non-residential).
  • Demonstrating ZNE leadership in state buildings (per Governor’s Executive Order B-18-12).
  • Investing in new technologies and research for increased energy efficiency.
  • Providing incentives for rooftop solar (PV) for new homes through the New Solar Homes Partnership.

For more information or to get involved, go to

GreenPoint Rated’s Zero Net Energy Achievements

To support AB 32 goals and longer term greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in California, GreenPoint Rated v.6 has defined an approach to ZNE with two levels for certification: Net Zero at 100% offset and Near Zero at 80% offset.

  • A GreenPoint Rated Net Zero 100% offset designation is earned when the amount of electric energy provided by renewable energy sources is equal to the amount of electric energy used by the building including heating, cooling, DHW, lighting (including interior, exterior), plug loads (based on home computer and entertainment center), appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher), and laundry (clothes washer and dryer differentiated by in-unit and central). A home must be all electric to achieve Net Zero 100% offset.
  • A GreenPoint Rated Near Zero 80% offset designation is reached when at least 80% of the estimated annual site energy use is offset by renewable energy sources.

There is a prerequisite: The project must meet the California 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards without the contributions of photovoltaic energy offsets.

Since introducing its ZNE designation, the GreenPoint Rated program has certified a single-family home development by KB Home and Mutual Housing’s Spring Lake multifamily development in Woodland, CA. The Spring Lake project provides 62 apartments and townhomes, supportive services, and community building programs for agricultural workers. Several more ZNE projects are underway. Let us help you achieve ZNE certification, too. Contact us at [email protected] or call 510.590.3360, ext. 604.

More to Come from Build It Green

If you want to learn practical tips about how to cost effectively build or remodel homes that generate as much energy as they use, save the date for Build It Green’s Ultra-Efficient Homes Conference on September 14 at the Brower Center in Berkeley, CA. We expect this inexpensive, day-long event to have an amazing line-up of speakers and exhibitors to share the latest green technologies and their real-world experiences with building and selling ultra-efficient homes. If you have questions or would like to attend, speak or exhibit at the event, drop us a line at [email protected].