For those not familiar, "a net-zero building is one that, over the course of a year, produces as much energy as it needs through a combination of technological efficiencies and its own on-site energy generation, such as solar power," notes Spivak.
Although the amount of commercial buildings constructed to this high standard over the past decade can be counted with a few hands, "the federal government has taken net-zero architecture to a new level by incorporating it in larger commercial buildings," writes Spivak.
Such buildings as NASA's Sustainability Base at the Ames Research Center complex near San Jose, California, and the Department of Energy's 220,000-square-foot Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus in Colorado, are introducing pioneering design and technologies not yet found in the private sector.
As it did in leading the way in the adoption of LEED standards at the beginning of the last decade, "it's the federal government that's been the most aggressive in mandating net zero energy for its next generation of buildings," beginning in 2007, reports Spivak.
And the government has set targets for net-zero adoption across all commercial buildings as well. "[T]he Department of Energy's Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative aims to research and market emerging technologies for net-zero buildings, with a goal of converting half of all public and private commercial buildings to net-zero energy by 2040 and the entire stock of U.S. commercial buildings by 2050."