Zero Carbon Requirements - Clarifications & FAQs

In This Article:

Volume Certification

  • Is there a volume certification process?
    We are actively working to develop policies for volume registration and certification. At this time, discounts may be available on a case by case basis. If you think your projects may qualify for a volume approach, please contact

Definition of New vs. Existing

  • What is the definition of a "new" or "existing" building with the Zero Carbon Certification?
    Relative to Zero Carbon, " new" is defined as a project where design development commenced after the date of the creation of the Standard – 4/10/2018; "existing" is defined as a project where design development commenced before the date of the creation of the Standard – 4/10/2018.

Difference between Zero Carbon and Zero Energy Requirements

  • Both ZC and ZE don't allow combustion in new buildings. ZC states explicit efficiency requirements for new buildings; ZE requires "world class efficiency," but "world class efficiency" is not defined.  The real differences mostly pertain to use of offsite renewables...

    Zero Carbon Zero Energy (w/ Offsite Exception)

    no restrictions for use of offsite renewables strict guidance for use of offsite renewables
    no onsite renewables required must have - and must max-out - onsite renewables (unless exception applies)
    efficiency must meet ZC requirements -  see table
    efficiency must be "best in class"
  • United Arab Emirates - Efficiency Requirements

    In cooperation with the Emirates Green Building Council, and based on the January 2019 EmiratesGBC Building Efficiency Accelerator Project Report - Energy and Water Performance Benchmarking in Hotels, Schools, & Malls, projects in the UAE may use the efficiency targets in the table below (in the far right column) in lieu of the standard efficiency targets stated on the Zero Carbon page of our website. Because the referenced report only considers data from hotels, schools, and malls, other building types must demonstrate a 30% reduction in energy use in comparison to a typical building of its type through Zero Tool or other proposed data set. Regardless of the dataset chosen, the version or baseline year of the dataset should be explicitly referenced and remain static so that energy targets are predictable for teams considering the standard.

    Project Type Median EUI 30% Reduction
    Hotel and Hotel Apartments 249 kWh/m 2/year 174 kWh/m 2/year
    Resorts 334 kWh/m 2/year 234 kWh/m 2/year
    Schools 134 kWh/m 2/year
    94 kWh/m 2/year
    Malls 465 kWh/m 2/year
    326 kWh/m 2/year

    Existing Combustion Systems in Existing Buildings

    To clarify the conditions for the use of combustion in existing building projects pursuing Zero Carbon certification, in reference to the statement “any fuel type used by existing projects is acceptable, including natural gas”:

    Projects pursuing Zero Carbon may utilize combustion-based systems if they existed in the building. However, project teams may not install new combustion-based equipment in Zero Carbon projects where they previously did not exist.

    Project teams that are making renovations to an existing building or an interior tenant space are encouraged to convert existing combustion-based equipment to electrical whenever possible. However, projects may directly replace or upgrade combustion-based components if a conversion to electric based systems would require a significant increase in project scope. Examples of a significant scope increase include expansion of the base building footprint or mechanical spaces to accommodate larger equipment (i.e. outside of an interior renovation scope) or an upgrade to the electrical service capacity of the base building that would otherwise not be necessary to service the project space. Note that any replacement or upgrades to combustion-based equipment may not result in higher fuel consumption; the intent should be to increase efficiency and otherwise minimize combustion-based fuel use.

    Project teams that replace or upgrade combustion-based equipment should provide additional documentation to describe their investigation of electrical-based alternatives and clearly outline the project scope boundaries that inhibit their use.

    Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us