Zero Energy Certification Overview
Zero energy is recognized worldwide as one of the highest aspirations in energy performance in the built environment. The International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy (ZE) Certification was created to allow projects to demonstrate zero energy performance, building an advanced cohort of projects with the integrity of third-party performance certification. This program, the only international zero energy certification:
- certifies that the building is truly operating as claimed, harnessing energy from the sun, wind or earth to produce net annual energy demand through a third-party audit of actual performance data
- provides a case study platform for your project to inform and accelerate other zero energy efforts throughout the world
- celebrates a significant accomplishment, and differentiates both the building and those responsible for its success in this quickly evolving market
The ILFI Zero Energy Standard is as follows:
One hundred percent of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. No combustion is allowed.
Certification is based on actual, not modeled, performance. Complete documentation requirements can be seen here. (Please note that these documentation requirements are provided for information only —actual certification documentation occurs on the ILFI online platform).
There are a number of ZE Certification exceptions, related to use of offsetting offsite renewables, on-site combustion, and other circumstances. These exceptions, and associated required documentation, are found in the online Dialogue (available to registered projects – see below), as well as the Energy Petal Handbook available free through the member dashboard.
ILFI’s Zero Energy Certification Requirements are now available in Mandarin and can be downloaded here.
How the certification process works
Registering your project signals your intent to build and certify your project as Zero Energy. Projects are encouraged to register as early in the development/occupancy process as possible. When you register your building, you’ll gain access to a variety of support resources, along with the opportunity to connect with industry leaders from around the world. Visit our PROJECT REGISTRATION DETAILS page to learn more about the program fees, service benefits, and registration process.
Register your project
- Join as a Living Future Member.
- Log into the Membership Dashboard and scroll down to the ‘Register’ section, then select ‘New Zero Energy Project’.
Once registered, a project team can begin organizing and submitting documentation on the ILFI online certification platform. Upon completion of construction, documentation will be collected for the preliminary Ready Audit. Once twelve consecutive months of performance data is collected to demonstrate a project achieves net zero carbon, submission of documentation for the Final Audit can begin.
(Please note that these documentation requirements are provided for information only – actual certification documentation occurs on the ILFI online platform). Once you have twelve consecutive months of performance data demonstrating your project achieves net zero energy, you are eligible to complete the submission of your project for audit and certification.
At the time of submittal for certification, prior to the commencement of the audit, certification fees are also paid.
CERTIFICATION FEES ARE LOCATED ON THIS PAGE.
Once your documentation is uploaded, ILFI Certification Staff will review it to ensure that it is complete, before passing it off to an independent third-party auditor for review.
If the auditor determines the project performs at zero energy and meets ILFI requirements, it will be certified. A beautiful offset print certification document, suitable for framing, or a stainless and glass plaque are available for purchase.
We’re here to help. We often create fee-for-service, customized technical assistance packages to match a project’s needs during the design phases.
Premium Options for Project Teams:
• Technical Consulting with LBC Staff
Additional details, clarifications, and exceptions to certification requirements can be seen in the Energy Petal Handbook, which is available for free through the Living Future Member dashboard.
ZERO ENERGY + PASSIVE HOUSE (PHI) CROSSWALK
This document addresses the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy (ZE) certification and the Passive House certification of the Passive House Institute (PHI). ILFI and PHI consider these certification programs to be highly complementary. The energy efficiency requirements of Passive House provide a targeted pathway focused on high energy efficiency for pursuing Zero Energy. The 12-month performance requirements of Zero Energy certification, in turn, provide a mechanism to validate the outcome of anticipated energy savings from Passive House.
ZERO ENERGY + PHIUS+ CROSSWALK
This document addresses the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy (ZE) certification and the PHIUS+ certifications of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). ILFI and PHIUS consider these certification programs to be highly complementary. The energy efficiency requirements of PHIUS+ provide a targeted pathway focused on high energy efficiency for pursuing Zero Energy. The 12-month performance requirements of Zero Energy certification, in turn, provide a mechanism to validate the outcome of anticipated energy savings from PHIUS+.
Net Zero Energy projects save money. Renewables are increasingly more accessible, and many cities now offer subsidies or rebates for buildings that are powered by solar. Here are a few areas that we work with:
- California: Pacific Gas & Electric Zero Net Energy Pilot Program
- Illinois: Clean Energy Community Foundation
- Massachusetts: Pathways to Zero Net Energy Program (commercial and residential)
- Michigan: Consumers Energy Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Companion Program
- New York: New York State Energy Resource and Development Agency (NYSERDA) (residential)
- Oregon: The Energy Trust of Oregon (commercial and residential)
- Washington: Energy Incentive Programs
- Seattle & Shoreline: Building & Energy Incentives
For a more comprehensive list of renewable energy and energy efficiency rebates by state, please visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®.
NEW ENERGY PETAL AND ZERO ENERGY BUILDING CERTIFICATION EXCEPTION ALLOWING OFFSITE RENEWABLES IN SPECIFIC CASES.
There are three specific circumstances where net zero energy performance is not feasible:
- Buildings which have either a very high energy intensity or project density, where even with the highest levels of efficiency are not able to offset their energy use on site;
- Tenant improvements, where the project owner does not control the exterior of the building and energy production is not feasible; and
- Certain areas where the local grid cannot accommodate the renewables created by the project.
We have worked with several potential projects where these circumstances apply and believe that there needs to be a pathway for project teams to strive to achieve the highest in energy performance within these limitations. As a result, we now offer a new exception that broadens the range of projects that can be certified. This new pathway still maintains the very highest aspiration and rigor, at a level similar to other Energy Petal and Zero Energy Building Certified projects.