Net Zero Building Codes

Net zero buildings are the future for better, more efficient building construction. MCAN is committed to improving our building code in two ways: first, by passing a net zero stretch code, and second, by improving our base code.

Better buildings make our communities safer, healthier, and more climate-friendly.

What is a net zero building?

A net zero building is extremely efficient and gets all of its energy from renewable sources, either producing all of its energy onsite or purchasing renewable energy from other sources.

Why net zero buildings?

In Massachusetts and across the United States, the building sector accounts for a big slice of our carbon pollution. By building net zero buildings, we can have a huge impact on reducing our pollution as a state, country, and planet. The international scientific consensus is that all buildings must be net zero by 2050.

We have the solutions... How does the code get us there?

Luckily, the technology to build net zero buildings is available now. Net zero is not only technologically feasible, but cost-effective.

Just last spring, California passed legislation that created a net zero building code that will require all new residential buildings in the state to be net zero by 2020, and all commercial buildings to be net zero by 2030. By 2020, energy use in single-family homes will be reduced by over 50% compared to buildings built under the current code, meaning both a huge reduction in carbon pollution, and a significant decrease in energy bills for folks across the state.

How does MA get a net zero building code?

Massachusetts can pass a net zero stretch code.

The Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS) added the stretch code as an appendix to the Massachusetts State Building Code in 2008. It was designed to give communities the opportunity to require higher energy efficiency standards for new buildings. Communities can pass the stretch code at town meeting or through their city council, at which point all new buildings in the town or city must meet the stretch code.

When it was developed, the stretch code represented a significant leap from the base code, meaning that communities that adopted the stretch code were building more energy-efficient buildings. However, due to the base code catching up, the stretch code is no longer a significant improvement.

In order to commit to stronger energy efficiency building standards as a Commonwealth, we need to develop a net zero stretch code now. Many communities in Massachusetts are interested in net zero community planning and net zero buildings, and a net zero stretch code would make it easier to do that planning now.

What are the next steps?

If you’re interested in working with us to see a net zero stretch code in Massachusetts, get in touch with netzero@massclimateaction.net.

A net zero stretch code would be a huge step towards meeting our climate goals as a state, and make sure that all new buildings that get built are better for the environment. We look forward to working with you!

Download this page as a PDF here

Check out our Better Building Codes webinar for more information on how you can help improve building codes here

https://youtu.be/EnH0-M6vV6w?t=1

 

Further Reading

https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-buildings 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/we-must-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-to-net-zero-or-face-more-floods

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2018/10/17/boston-climate-change-joan-fitzgerald-henrietta-davis?platform=hootsuite

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/pierre-delforge/ca-building-code-takes-big-step-toward-net-zero-energy

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