There are multiple definitions of high performance buildings that encapsulate similar design principles:

  • Zero carbon building- a building that uses net zero carbon during its operational performance with relation to regulated energy use 
  • Zero energy building- a building that meets its annual energy demand through on-site renewables 
  • Near-zero carbon building- similar to zero carbon, however there is an allowance that could be met off-site or through payments into carbon funds
  • Nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB)– low energy buildings that strives to meet annual energy demand through on-site low carbon and renewable technologies. Different EU member states have different requirements and there is no unified kWh/m2/year figure available.

The common denominator in all design principles is simple- the design must be focused on using as little as energy as possible, whilst generating as much as possible on-site. However this is fairly difficult to achieve in practice and requires incredible attention to detail, a robust design, meticulous delivery and construction and energy efficient operation. 

Depending on the definition, the priority of various design features could be altered. 

A zero-carbon building is affected by the regional carbon intensity of the electricity grid and is a better solution for developers with key interest in long term sustainability and climate change issues. 

A zero energy building is focused in the actual use of energy rather than associated emissions and is better suited for developers who are keen on reducing the operational costs of their buildings to optimal levels.

A near-zero carbon building is affected by the allowance and economic conditions of off-setting emissions.

A nearly-zero carbon building (nZEB) is affected by the regional and local planning policies and its definition. This is now a mandatory requirement for all EU member states and offers a unique opportunity to provide a long lasting sustainable building stock. 

At Consultergy, we are keen to offer you specific design solutions based on your requirements, key performance indicators and planned outcomes. We tailor our approach depending on your values and our services are focused on delivering design that works in-practice in order to eliminate the ‘performance gap’ between simulated predicted outcomes and delivered results. 

We are also keen advocates of the principle that once a building is completed, it requires further attention in order to meet the intended design priorities. Contact us and join the global efforts of achieving a low carbon future.