Dozens of net-zero communities are popping up across the U.S. and setting the stage for a nationwide shift to renewables. Simply put, these modern neighborhoods have net-zero energy consumption. They generate the same amount of renewable power as they consume on-site each year. In addition to saving homeowners money on utility bills, going net-zero also aids in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating global warming. In fact, most global scenarios that keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels require communities to adopt net-zero design by 2100.
Generally, net-zero communities are much more efficient, affordable, and practical than isolated, individually owned buildings. On the surface, an office building or a single residential home may sound like an easier solution to meeting green energy standards because it’s easier to finance and build a standalone project. However, the larger most systems get the more efficient they are.
This is because communities can practice load sharing and manage energy as a system, across all the buildings. Additionally, constructing net-zero energy homes in one development saves more resources than undertaking several different energy-efficient projects. Building a bigger system to support communities will prove — and has already proven — more efficient than constructing many small homes for individual homeowners.
Wind, solar, and water are the most prominent leaders in clean energy, but only 6% of American homeowners have installed solar panels despite growing interest in, and the declining price of, solar panel technology. In contrast to the norm, net-zero communities almost exclusively rely on solar to power their homes.