High-performance buildings are designed to be energy-efficient, healthy environments to live and work. Zero-energy buildings are a type of high-performance building that generates as much energy as it consumes. These buildings not only save owners money on utility bills, but also provide numerous benefits including improved comfort, increased durability, and better indoor air quality. These benefits have been shown to lead to improved health, learning, and productivity outcomes for occupants of various building types.
In 2016, National Grid led the Rhode Island Zero-Energy Building Task Force consisting of key stakeholders from the State, associations, architects/engineers, and developers. The Task Force developed and issued a whitepaper report outlining a 20-year roadmap for zero-energy buildings to contribute to the State’s Energy 2035 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2035. The roadmap identifies opportunities including stakeholder collaboration, incentives, education, financing and policies that will help to foster the growth of the residential and commercial Zero-Energy Building market in Rhode Island. The whitepaper is available here: https://www.nationalgridus.com/media/pronet/ri-ee-task-force/cm6459-ri-zne-white-paper-12_16.pdf.
Though zero-energy buildings are relatively cost-competitive, there are still other market barriers slowing widespread adoption of such buildings. In December 2015, Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed Executive Order 15-17: "State Agencies to Lead by Example in Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy." The Executive Order establishes clear energy goals for State agencies and includes establishment of a Voluntary Stretch Code. Rhode Island’s Voluntary Stretch Code is one step in advancing the market toward zero-energy-ready and high-performance buildings. The Voluntary Stretch Code is available here: http://www.energy.ri.gov/policies-programs/lead-by-example/rhode-island-stretch-codes.php. Contact Becca Trietch at Becca.Trietch@energy.ri.gov for more information.
OER coordinates a Zero-Energy Buildings Working Group, with subgroups for residential, commercial, and public buildings. The group’s mission is to support market transformation through education, outreach, and training. Composed of a diverse set of stakeholders, the group also serves as a focus group to identify systematic barriers to zero-energy and high-performance buildings in Rhode Island, and works to overcome these barriers. To learn more, contact Carrie Gill at Carrie.Gill@energy.ri.gov.
Zero-energy buildings provide many benefits, including reduced utility bills, improved comfort, increased durability, and better indoor air quality. At minimum, potential buyers should include expected operations and maintenance costs with monthly mortgage costs when comparing alternatives. When buying a building, buyers should ask their real estate agent for information about the building’s energy use. Often, a real estate agent can provide you with a building’s Home Energy Score, HERS Rating, or average annual energy costs. If you already own a building and are considering renovations, or if you want to build new, check with your utility about available incentives and support in the design phase of your project. You can also use Rhode Island’s Voluntary Stretch Codes.
For more information, contact Carrie Gill at Carrie.Gill@energy.ri.gov.