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Zero Net Energy Buildings Pilot Program

National Grid’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Pilot Program is looking to develop the zero net energy (ZNE) market by providing design and technical assistance to new construction project teams as well as financial incentives that reward designers and owners for energy saved.  This pilot program is available to a limited number of participants.

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A ZNE building is an ultra-energy-efficient building produces as much clean, renewable, grid-tied energy on-site as it uses, when measured over a calendar year. ZNE buildings offer better value for business and building owners because they:

  • Save money with lower monthly energy bills,
  • Provide more comfortable environments that translates to higher worker productivity,
  • Are quality, high-worth properties with better leasing rates, and
  • Are more resilient to weather events and cut carbon emissions that are fueling climate change.

ZNE projects don’t need to cost more. There are buildings today of many types and sizes, where zero net energy performance has been achieved with no or low added costs. In fact, over their lifetime, operating expenses for ZNE projects are less, so they can payback within five to seven years. Under this pilot program, National Grid is working with design teams and owners to reduce barriers and make sure zero net energy buildings are attainable in Rhode Island.

Sources:

Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start, USGBC-MA

Best Practices for Leasing NZE Buildings

Zero Net Energy Cast Study Buildings, Vol. 1, PG&E

Accelerating Building Decarbonization: Eight Attainable Policy Pathways to Net Zero Carbon Buildings for All, World Resources Institute

Assistance and Incentives for Owners

National Grid’s expert technical staff support owners from the beginning with advice for design team selection.

Assistance and Incentives for Owners

Assistance and Incentives for Design Teams

Support for design teams ensures successful project outcomes and best practice application of technologies.

Assistance and Incentives for Design Teams

Frequently Asked Questions

Check these five simple criteria to see if your project is right for the Zero Net Energy Buildings Pilot Program:

  1. Is your building a new commercial construction project in Rhode Island?
  2. Are you in Schematic Design or earlier phase?
  3. Is your project 20,000 square feet or larger? 
  4. Is the owner, operations manager, and design team willing to stay involved post-occupancy and allow monitoring of the facility during a one-year post occupancy period to verify ZNE performance?
  5. Is the building intended for operation for at least 10 months a year at a consistent occupancy level?

Note: This pilot program can only accept a limited number of participants. Please apply as soon as possible to ensure your spot. 

For this pilot, a zero net energy building is an ultra-energy-efficient building that:

  • is built at a minimum 30% better than code, 
  • meets the minimum Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target set for the project, and
  • produces as much clean, renewable, grid-tied energy on-site as it uses, when the measured over the course of 12-months.

Zero net energy ready projects are not able to add renewables on-site, but achieve EUI targets set for the project. They are also eligible to participate in this program.

*EUI targets for a project are set as a collaborative process with the owner, design team and National Grid. For this pilot, EUI does not include on-site renewable energy generation  as part of the calculated targets. EUI is measured in kBtus/sf/year.

In addition to the customer benefits of ZNE buildings, National Grid is working to help meet Rhode Island’s climate action goals to increase the number of these projects throughout the state. This pilot program for new construction projects helps to determine the best approach and necessary support to the building industry with a ZNE program, National Grid is looking to partner and assist with projects that are looking to achieve ZNE goals. The learnings from these limited number of pilot projects will allow National Grid to launch a full program in the future.

The Four Major Components of Integrated Design

Integrated building system design encourages interactive efficiencies of readily available, high-performance technologies to achieve the significant energy load reductions critical to  zero net energy (ZNE) outcomes. For example, a tight, well-insulated building envelope can reduce heating and cooling capacity, decreasing the size of the mechanical system, upfront construction costs, and long-term operating costs. 

Designing integrated systems requires a design team with an aligned ZNE goal and one that communicates early and often during design; this process is known as the integrated design process. This team-oriented, integrated design process will ensure the most appropriate design strategies are considered and encourages exploring interactive efficiencies of readily available, high-performance technologies to achieve the significant energy load reductions critical to ZNE outcomes.