ZNE for All! Enabling Zero Net Energy Retrofits for Small Commercial Offices

Publication Type

Conference Paper


The small commercial office market experiences a number of unique barriers to
achieving substantial energy reductions. Those barriers include: 1) a lack of awareness of and
access to centralized, comprehensive, cost-evaluative information about how to achieve energy
targets, and 2) affordable access to energy reduction services such as engineering and auditing
services. Energy efficiency tools and services currently involve higher costs on a per-square-foot
or kilowatt-hour (kWh)-saved basis. Small commercial buildings are consequently underserved
by the energy services market and disadvantaged in accessing the same detailed retrofit
information that larger buildings realize. Meeting national and state energy goals requires
whole-building integrated solutions that enable this sector to realize deep energy savings
successfully and affordably.
This project developed cost-effective retrofit packages of commercial, whole-building
integrated systems to achieve zero net energy (ZNE) performance for California multi-story
small commercial offices. The energy efficiency measure (EEM) packages target 50% energy
savings over existing energy use, with costs within 10% of conventional-performance
construction costs, and internal rates of return (IRR) of 5% or more. The developed packages of
EEMs are validated for energy performance, as well as visual and thermal comfort, under both
controlled laboratory test conditions for emerging technologies and demonstrated in an occupied
small commercial building. Validated EEMs were built into an online public software platform
that enables small commercial facilities to conduct whole-building retrofit assessments, relevant
to their building, providing cost-evaluative feedback on EEMs and packages of measures.

Conference Name

ACEEE Summer Study

Year of Publication

Research Areas