Technology Innovation and Cost Decreases are Fueling the Spread of Net Zero Energy Buildings

June 19, 2012

Several forces, including concerns about corporate image and branding in an increasingly sustainability-focused marketplace and growing interest in staying on the cutting edge of technology, are driving many in the construction industry toward the goal of producing zero energy buildings, i.e., buildings that produce as much energy as they consume through on-site and renewable energy systems.  Many of the technologies needed to deliver zero energy buildings, such as energy efficient HVAC systems, have already been developed.  Others, however, such as triple glazed windows and solar panels, are not considered cost-effective in comparison with conventional alternatives.  According to a recent report from Pike Research, over the next few decades, cost decreases in these existing technologies and innovation in emerging technologies, driven by stringent government regulations, will help make zero energy building more attainable.

Worldwide revenue from zero energy buildings will grow rapidly over the next two decades, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035.

“Zero energy buildings constitute only a small fraction of the overall green building market today,” says senior analyst Eric Bloom.  “While several dozen buildings of this type have been constructed in the United States, and while the Passivhaus movement in Europe is achieving zero energy in many residential and commercial buildings, the market as a whole remains essentially dormant.  That is changing as advances in building technology provide breakthrough solutions to energy efficiency and renewable energy challenges, while driving down costs for existing technologies.”

For example, electrochromic glass technology, which has only been introduced to the construction industry in the last few years, will continue to improve in terms of durability and performance while dropping in cost over the next few decades, providing a strong alternative to conventional glazing systems.  The same could be said of innovative energy storage technologies and LED lighting.  In parallel with a series of regulatory measures mandating zero energy building construction in commercial and residential buildings, primarily in the European Union and North America, these advances will expand the zero energy building sector beyond a niche market over the next few decades.

Pike Research’s report, “Zero Energy Buildings”, provides data on the size and growth of the market for zero energy building markets, including HVAC systems, glazing systems, wall and roof construction, renewable energy systems, and construction soft costs, from 2011 through 2035.  The study also includes a qualitative assessment of major drivers and trends for zero energy buildings in key markets, including both commercial and residential zero energy buildings.  It also provides a discussion of the individual technology elements associated with zero energy building, as well as the design challenges that the AEC (architecture/engineering/construction) service providers will face in delivering zero energy buildings.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Contact: Richard Martin

+1 303 997 7609

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