A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether homes that produce as much energy as they use should be called net zero energy or zero net energy homes. Several readers offered up another choice: zero energy homes.
I’ve also written in the past about four different ways to define net zero energy (the term I’ve preferred). Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has weighed in on both of these debates. Do you know what they decided?
The name of the DOE report is called A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings. That gives away their name preference, which they’ve actually been using for a while. They dropped the “net” altogether and assume people will be able to figure out what it means. I’m OK with that. The scientist and grammarian in me wants a more precise term, but I get it.
Sam Rashkin, the Chief Architect in the DOE’s Building Technologies Office, has been presenting on clearing up our language in the energy efficiency community for the past couple of years. I just heard him again recently in Chicago, where he gave the closing keynote speech at the 10th annual North American Passive House Conference.
He always starts by talking about how no one wanted to buy the delectable fish that was called Patagonian toothfish. But when they changed the name to Chilean Sea Bass, it became a big hit. Words matter.
So, zero energy homes it is. I’m OK with that, even if it’s a bit inaccurate (because all homes use energy).
In the introduction of the DOE report, they write, “A zero energy building (ZEB) produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy…