USGBC-MA study: “Zero Energy Buildings in MA: Saving Money from the Start”


From the Executive Director of the USGBC-MA, Meredith Elbaum:

I am excited to announce the release of our report, Zero Energy Buildings in MA: Saving Money from the StartIn May of 2018, we held a Zero Net Energy Municipal Summit during which we asked participants: What are the barriers to building Zero Energy (ZE) buildings? The number one cited obstacle was cost. With the support of the Barr Foundation, we engaged Integral Group to assess ZE building costs, model performance, and conduct life-cycle cost assessments in an effort to determine if increased costs for ZE buildings in Massachusetts are a reality or myth.

This report dispels the myth that zero energy buildings are too expensive and reveals the following five key findings:

  1. ZE buildings are being built in Massachusetts today with virtually no up-front costs
  2. Return on investment for ZE in Existing and New Office Buildings can begin in as little as one year for ZE ready buildings
  3. Of the six building types studied, all can be Zero Energy Ready (ZER) for upfront costs of 0-7 percent, and all types breakeven in eight years or less when there are no additional upfront costs
  4. Existing office buildings retrofitted to zero energy, with renewables, can produce a return on their investment in as little as five to six years.
  5. Building energy demand can be reduced 44 – 54 percent across all building types with technology that’s readily available today.

The report presents a set of recommendations on how to further advance zero energy building policy in Massachusetts, including:

  • Create a zero energy stretch code as a compliance path to the state energy code and establish date-specific targets for mandatory zero energy code adoption in Massachusetts.
  • Require annual benchmarking and disclosure of energy performance for all commercial and multi-family buildings.
  • Establish Building Energy Performance Standards for large existing commercial and multi-family buildings.
  • Work with residential loan providers to bundle solar installation and deep energy retrofit costs into mortgage at time of sale; investigate mortgage buy-down programs for current homeowners.
  • Commonwealth and municipal governments should develop point-based incentive programs/performance-based procurement protocols for public projects to incentivize ZE projects.

Visit our website to read the entire report and then help us #DispelTheMyth by sharing and promoting the report widely on social media. Tag USGBC MA and let us know how the report changed your perspective on investing in more ZE projects.