Photo courtesy of Solid Green Systems

Land Use Planning and Entitlements for Zero Net Energy in the BAYLANDS

By: Charla Gomez AICP, LEED ND, Founder, Pristis Sustainability Advisors, San Francisco California The Baylands is a 700-acre master plan proposal for the City of Brisbane CA, on one of the largest undeveloped sites on the west side of the San Francisco Peninsula. The Baylands offers a unique opportunity to redevelop a well-located brownfield site — a precious commodity in the Bay Area — into a world-class sustainable and “regenerative” community. At stake is how the developer, Universal Paragon Corporation, can commit to deliver the project’s entire development program (about 12 million-square-feet of various land uses) with carbon neutral buildings. In 2015 the City of Brisbane adopted a sustainability framework for Baylands that follows One Planet Living (OPL), the highly aspirational framework created by Bioregional in the UK. The OPL framework calls for carbon neutral buildings as one of its core principles, and, most likely, it will be mandatory for the developer to build the project accordingly. This is because compliance with Baylands’ energy goal will need to be in alignment with the fast approaching Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals of California for residential by 2020 and commercial by 2030. Thus, the delivery of carbon neutral buildings in Baylands is simply a necessity. Land use planning challenges Also at stake is also how Baylands can decide on its final land use plan, which should allocate the renewable energy generation capacity required to offset the energy demand of its carbon neutral buildings, including 4,400 dwelling units. The planning process for the Baylands has taken several years and it is currently under review by the City Council, with a projected approval...

Is Zero the Home Building Uber?

The fact that the home-building industry is slow to change is old news. Very old news.

Unlike the taxi, lodging, telecommunications, music and automotive sectors, there’s no Uber, Air bnb, iPhone, iTunes or driverless car equivalent incubating in the imagination of some home-building hotshot. Or is there?

Zero Energy Homes: Built Projects & Programs Chart the Road to Adoption

When the Net Zero Energy Coalition set out to inventory the zero-energy (plus/minus) homes in the US and Canada, we had questions – that was the whole point, after all. We wanted to create a picture of the state of the zero-energy residential construction movement by asking some things that we didn’t know, such as How many zero-energy homes are there, anyway? The basic results of that inquiry are quite interesting, and are well-covered in our January 2016 report, To Zero and Beyond: Zero Energy Residential Buildings Study, and summarized in this nifty infographic.

Zero Energy Residential Construction: Competition helps us move from Ideas to Reality

Those of us in the residential net zero energy community have lived on the fringe for quite a few years now. Each year we expect more change and greater acceptance. We have loved our conferences that brought new ideas and encouragement. Bright innovators with limited capital were commonplace but too few marque zero energy residential projects resulted. Many new ideas fell on deaf ears in the early days.

Word play is not a game—especially when the word is green

Being picky about words can get you into trouble sometimes. But that’s the price I’m willing to pay when it comes to the future of the world’s building stock.

Today the word I’m picking on is green. And it’s not for the first time.

ZNE Homes: Comparing Costs With their Conventional Cousins

The burning question I hear most often about zero-energy (ZE) homes is, “How much does it cost to build one, compared to a conventional home?” Most recently, this has come up in the context of design of the Zero-and-Beyond case study database that NZEC is developing in collaboration with NESEA. Of course, we would love to be able to report on costs.

A Rightly Imagined Future for Zero Energy Buildings

I’m a member of the Board of the Net Zero Energy Coalition. It’s a volunteer job of course, but it comes with responsibilities. One of those is pretty challenging—come up with clever ideas about accelerating market adoption of Zero, Near Zero and Zero Energy Ready buildings. How can we imagine a realistic future for Zero Energy?