Guide to a Net Zero Future: What Net Zero Codes Mean for You

Photo credit: Benny Chan/Fotoworks

Across the world, the push to mandate net zero buildings – buildings that produce as much energy and/or water as they consume annually – is growing.

Perhaps the biggest move has been made by the state of California, home to the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles (USGBC-LA), which is requiring 100% of new residential projects in the state to be designed to net zero energy standards by 2020 (yes, that’s next year!). The same will be required of all new commercial buildings by 2030.

Other cities and states are taking significant steps as well: Washington; Vermont; New York; Boulder, Colorado; the District of Columbia; and Scottsdale, Arizona are all requiring super high-efficiency measures in their building codes, exceeding planned updates to the national model energy codes produced by the International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1-2019.

And the push isn’t just governmental — Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) partnered with TRC Companies to be the first community choice aggregators (CCAs) to develop and promote model local reach codes across their territories. In total, PCE and SVCE are making a case to 33 cities and counties to adopt building codes that exceed California mandates.

These codes are crucial, as many of us in the industry are aware, buildings account for roughly 40% of the energy consumed in the U.S. and over a third of our carbon emissions. Reducing emissions from our buildings can improve resiliency and is likely the only way to reach regional, national, and international climate goals.

This doesn’t mean compliance will be easy. We know it’s challenging to find wiggle room in a construction budget. With new codes imminently approaching, the need for support and education is greater than ever.

So, you want to learn more about designing to meet net zero codes?

Verdical Group’s Net Zero Conference (Oct. 2-4 at LA Convention Center) will offer an opportunity to clarify a lot of questions that we’re all dealing with. There will be several sessions dedicated specifically to code changes, including the California deadlines and CCAs. One panel on changing codes in our state, “California Codes for a Net Zero Future,” will offer direction straight from the source, featuring representatives from the California Energy Commission (CEC), California Department of General Services (DGS), and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and be moderated by Gary Gero, Chief Sustainability Officer for the County of Los Angeles. We will also have a chance to discover how PCE, SVCE, and TRC Companies developed their model reach codes and how they are working toward bringing them into local communities.

The conference will also be offering tours of net zero and near-zero buildings, including the active construction site for the City of Santa Monica City Services building, which is being designed as the first municipal building in California to meet the full Living Building Challenge requirements; the LEED Platinum-certified Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in Agoura Hills; the Perlita Passive House in Los Feliz, the nation’s first Passive House and Living Building Challenge Petal Certification project; the Net Zero Plus Electrical Training Institute in Commerce, a net-positive living laboratory jointly owned and operated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the National Electrical Contractors’ Association of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, a co-working space and laboratory in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles pursuing Net Zero, LEED, and WELL certifications.

The three-day event will also feature keynotes from the CEO of the International Future Institute, Amanda Sturgeon; the CEO & Founder of Architecture 2030, Ed Mazria; and Former CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Terry Tamminen.

It is our goal with the Net Zero Conference to support industry, policymakers, and educators as we all move toward a net zero future. Between this year’s panels, expo, awards and tours, we expect a vibrant 3-day hub for thought-leaders and industry-shapers in the carbon, energy, water, waste, and transit sectors. To that end, we are also really excited about our partnership with USGBC-LA.

USGBC-LA’s Net Zero Accelerator & The Trailblazer Awards

The Net Zero Conference & Expo will also feature the first Trailblazer Awards Ceremony, during which USGBC-LA’s executive Director Ben Stapleton will present an award to one of the start-ups participating in their first Net Zero Accelerator cohort.

The winner will be judged on October 2, 2019 at the USGBC-LA Net Zero Startup Competition. Full conference attendees are invited to join USGBC-LA as they showcase the work of their Net Zero Accelerator startups; at the end of this competition, attendees will be able to vote to select a winning company.

The Trailblazer Awards, which celebrate leaders who are building a net zero future through their work in the carbon, energy, water, waste, transit, and / or policy sectors, will take place during the main conference day on October 3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Learn more and register at

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