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US sets firms 'zero-net' energy use targets

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has announced new measures to help new commercial buildings to be “zero-net” energy users by 2025.

The department’s deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency David Rodgers has launched the Zero Net Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) and announced the establishment of the National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies.

The aim is to encourage the use of efficient technologies and on-site renewable energy generation so commercial buildings are capable of generating as much energy as they consume by 2025..

Mr Rodgers said: “DOE’s Commercial Building Initiative and the Collaborative are urgently needed to accelerate innovation and market adoption in the field of high performance buildings.

 “Now we are bringing to bear the unprecedented collaboration in scientific resources of five National Laboratories to bring about the needed transformation of the built environment, lower our carbon footprint in buildings and accelerate commercial deployment of clean, efficient building technologies.”

DOE believes the 2025 target can be reached through advanced energy efficiency technologies and on-site renewable energy generation systems, such as solar power and geothermal energy.

The strategy being developed by DOE will promote research, sponsor pilot and demonstration projects, provide technical assistance to encourage widespread technology adoption, develop training materials and programs for builders, establish public education programmes on energy efficiency and analyse the best way to incentivise take up of technologies via installers, landlords and tenants.

Various groups including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have already assisted DOE to create Advanced Energy Design Guides to secure energy savings of 30 per cent on existing standards.