News Detail

Energy Department Publishes Request for Information to Help Create a Definition for “Zero Emissions Building”

The Department of Energy (DOE) published an RFI to help inform the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy’s (Climate Policy Office) effort to create a standardized, verifiable basis for defining a zero emissions building. Specifically, DOE will use this RFI to receive input on Part 1 of the draft “National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building.” The intent of Part 1 of the National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building is to create a standardized, consistent, measurable basis for zero operating emissions buildings that will serve as a framework that users can achieve through multiple pathways to influence the design and operation of buildings to substantially reduce building sector emissions.

Specifically, DOE notes that the minimum criteria included to define a zero operating emissions building under Part 1 is a building that is: (1) highly energy efficient; (2) free of on-site emissions from energy use; and (3) powered solely by clean energy. Part 1 of the draft National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building focuses on operational emissions which have well-established measurement protocols and can be applied to existing buildings and new construction of non-federally owned buildings. DOE notes that this definition is not intended for federally owned buildings, which are governed as a portfolio through statutory and executive guidance. Within the RFI, DOE is seeking feedback on a number of multipart questions (listed in the Federal Register notice in their entirety) related to Part 1 of the draft National Definition for a Zero Emissions Building. These include questions related to the following topics: (1) whether the draft criteria, which are listed above, are clear and appropriate for the definition for a zero emissions building; (2) whether any other criteria should be considered for Part 1; (3) whether energy efficiency should be considered a criteria for the definition of a zero emissions building, and if so, whether requiring energy performance in the top 25% of similar buildings is an appropriate measure of energy efficiency for this definition; (4) whether there should be an exemption allowed for emission producing emergency generation; (5) whether the clean energy criteria provided are appropriate for this definition; (6) whether there should be a proximity requirement for off-site power used to meet the clean power criterion; (7) whether the national definition should cover all building types, including commercial, multifamily, and single-family; and (8) whether the Part 1 definition should include factors/areas beyond operating emissions (i.e., embodied carbon, refrigerant and grid interactivity).

Comments are due by 5pm ET on February 5, 2024 and should be submitted here. Additionally, DOE notes that it may hold a listening session in connection with the RFI, which would be announced on DOE’s website in advance.

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