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Almost 48 percent of energy in the U.S. goes to residential and commercial buildings. Zero energy buildings drastically reduce that energy use by slashing the demand for energy, while supplying the remaining energy needs from renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. Zero energy buildings are connected to the grid, drawing power at night or during sunless days and sending power to the grid when the sun is shining. They not only cut net energy use and net carbon emissions to zero, but also lower cost of ownership and enhance the quality of life of their occupants.
The key components of a zero energy building include simple, off the shelf technologies beginning with energy modeling software, such as Energyplus for commercial buildings or REM/Rate for homes. This technology, used during the design phase, with the architect, engineer, general contractor, HVAC specialist and building energy consultant working together, helps determine the most cost effective mix of the following energy saving technologies needed to get to zero energy.