The Zero Code


The Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework works alongside energy efficiency, electrification measures and other decarbonization strategies to support the construction of code-compliant, zero-carbon buildings that use local clean energy. The framework applies to new commercial, industrial and mid- to high-rise residential buildings – the dominant building types being constructed in cities today. It can also be applied to existing buildings. 

The framework is designed to be both plug-and-play and highly flexible and adaptable for any jurisdiction to use. Cities and states can adopt all or aspects of the framework through a regular code-adoption process or via other policy pathways described here

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We are currently undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in human history. By 2060, two out of every three people will live in cities.

By 2060, the world is projected to add 230 billion m2 (2.5 trillion sq ft) of buildings, or an area equal to the entire current global building stock. This is the equivalent of adding an entire New York City to the planet every 34 days for the next 40 years.

Improvements in building sector energy efficiency and growth in renewable energy generating capacity have not been nearly enough to offset the increase in emissions from new construction. Only by eliminating CO2 emissions from new building operations will we begin to reduce building sector emissions overall.

Achieving zero emissions from new construction will require the complete elimination of on-site fossil fuel consumption, such as fossil gas for space and water heating or cooking. Instead, buildings must draw their power solely from carbon-free, renewable sources located either on- or off-site.

New construction must also rely on energy-efficient systems to ensure that total building energy use is minimal, thus enabling the carbon-free, renewable energy sources to easily and more economically meet demand. To that end, Architecture 2030 developed the Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework.

The Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework includes both prescriptive and performance paths for building energy efficiency compliance (based on the highest performing national standards that are available to municipalities and building professionals worldwide) and is supported by compliance tools and simulation software.

Complying with the Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework entails first meeting the minimum prescriptive or performance requirements for building energy efficiency defined by any of the following: ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016, ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2019, IECC 2021, 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2017, 2019 or the upcoming 2022 California BEES. As part of a standardized and predictable process to continue to advance energy efficiency, new standards that exceed the current standards will be incorporated into the framework as they are published.

The Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework offers code adaptable language and a flexible approach for incorporating renewable energy, both through on-site generation and/or off-site procurement. By establishing a flexible approach, the framework is applicable to all new commercial and institutional buildings, and mid- to high-rise housing, including buildings with limited on-site renewable energy generating capacity (e.g. buildings in dense urban environments).

The Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework has been adopted into the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code as Appendix CC: Zero Energy Commercial Building Provisions.

technical support document is available that describes several potential options for off-site procurement of renewable energy within the context of codes, and presents a process for evaluating and assigning a weight to each procurement method.

The Zero Code Renewable Energy Procurement Framework is supported by Energy Calculators that ease the implementation process and reduce errors when applying the prescriptive compliance path. An Application Program Interface (API) for the national and international versions of the software has been developed, enabling the software to be implemented as a website or an application for smartphones and tablets. Ultimately this approach will save years and valuable resources that would otherwise be spent on developing new compliance tools and mechanisms.