Net Zero New Buildings & Homes

Denver has a goal for all new buildings and homes to achieve net-zero energy by 2030. Denver defines “Net Zero Energy (NZE)” as a new building or home that is: 1. Highly Energy Efficient, 2. All-Electric, 3. Powered by Renewable Energy, and 4. Providers of Demand Flexibility for the Grid.

Denver’s detailed NZE goals are:    

  • Net zero energy, all-electric new homes in the 2024 Building Code  
  • Net zero energy, all-electric new buildings in the 2027 Building Code 
  • New buildings perform as designed (performance verification) in the 2030 Building Code  

Further detail and technical specifications on getting to net zero is detailed in Denver’s 2020 Net Zero Energy (NZE) New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan(PDF, 4MB). The plan is based on extensive stakeholder input from the Net Zero Energy Stakeholder Advisory Groups and feedback from the community. This NZE New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan details the targets, supports, and considerations needed to reach net zero energy by 2030. There are also newsletters and emails to keep you updated about our work! Please reach out to our office at EnergyProgram@denvergov.org with questions. 

Net Zero Energy (NZE) Resources

Code Development for NZE

As a first step towards Denver’s net zero energy (NZE) goals Denver plans to update its building code in 2021. Denver has two code cycles for homes (by 2024) and three for buildings (by 2027). In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that cities need to achieve NZE new buildings by 2020, therefore Denver needs to move as quickly as possible to achieve net zero energy.

NZE Definitions & Guidelines

A new building or home that is highly energy-efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy. 

Guiding Principles:

  • We will need incentives to support new construction and the community.
  • As a whole community of buildings, we want to achieve this goal.  We will not achieve it in every individual building.
  • There will be different solutions for different buildings: our goal is to write an implementation plan that requires a fair and consistent level of effort across building types, sectors, and neighborhoods.
  • Stakeholders will help us figure out this path.

This means all new homes (by 2024) and new buildings (by 2027) will be:

  1. Highly Energy Efficient
    • Highly energy-efficient buildings on site
    • Target Energy Use Intensity (EUI) for commercial buildings.  Target ERI for homes.
    • Buildings will have to perform as designed where practical for that building type.
    • Energy efficiency is the step that makes everything more cost-effective.
  2. All Electric
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through all-electric equipment in buildings. 
    • No more natural gas in our new buildings and homes.
  3. Powered by Renewable Electricity
    • On-site or off-site renewables focused on additional production. 
    • REC’s (renewable attributes) need to be retired by the customer or the utility and not sold.
    • By 2050 the grid will be 100% renewable. Buildings are part of that equation.
  4. Providers of Demand Flexibility for the Grid
    • Energy storage, grid integration, and flexibility to respond to grid signals.

NZE New Buildings & Homes Implementation Plan

The City and County of Denver developed a comprehensive Net Zero Energy New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan with the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and intensive stakeholder engagement. The Implementation Plan details goals, milestones, and targets achieve net zero energy in new buildings and homes. Support for the document creation was provided by the American Cities Climate Challenge.

NZE New Buildings & Homes Implementation Plan(PDF, 4MB)

The Implementation Plan is heavily based on Denver stakeholder input to ensure this plan is equitable, accessible, and achievable for all building types and stakeholders. The City and County of Denver hosted Stakeholder Meetings to ensure this Implementation Plan provides specific and achievable pathways to net-zero energy new buildings and homes. The Phase One meeting and an interim meeting were held in 2019 and a Phase Two meeting and a Public Input Meeting were held in October 2020. The meeting notes and presentations for each are available below. 

Phase 1 Meetings: Completed in October 2019

Interim Dec Meeting: Building Policies & Strategies for Climate Task Force*

Phase 2 Meetings: Completed in October 2020

Public Input Meeting: Completed in October 2020

*If you need assistance reading these documents please contact us at energyprogram@denvergov.org.

Please contact amber.wood@denvergov.org if you would like to be added to our Net Zero Energy New Building newsletters. 

 

Denver’s Path to NZE

As part of the Implementation Plan development, the two charts below show the paths for commercial buildings and homes. This visual helps show the story about the work required during the Code Adoption Process in order to meet Denver’s climate goals. The Energy Use (vertical axis) uses the Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI) as an indication of how buildings are performing in relation to net-zero energy goals. The charts visualize the major steps needed to achieve Denver’s vision during future code processes of getting to zero energy buildings and homes.

Graph of Denver's Path to NZE - Commercial Graph of Denver's Path to NZE - Residential

 

Denver's Building Sector Embodied Carbon Emissions

When Denver achieves the goals of all new buildings and homes meeting Net Zero Energy (NZE) by 2030 and all building and homes meeting NZE by 2040, the impact of embodied carbon emissions grows exponentially. Denver’s Building Sector Embodied Carbon Emissions(PDF, 3MB) details the key findings and provides strategies for reducing embodied carbon and for policy development.