PG&E Zero Net Energy (ZNE) activities partner with California’s energy efficiency plans

The PG&E Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Pilot Program began in 2010 to support the 2008 California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. ZNE goals state that all new residential construction be ZNE by 2020; all new commercial construction, by 2030.

The PG&E ZNE Pilot Program (2010-2012) was focused on achieving maximum energy efficiency and load reduction by leveraging advanced design, construction and building operations before the addition of on-site renewable energy generation, such as photovoltaic panels (PV). A “zero-net energy building” produces as much clean, renewable, grid-tied energy on-site as it uses when measured over a calendar year.

PG&E’s ongoing ZNE activities promote California’s long-term energy goals through a portfolio of research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects around ZNE buildings together with complementary education, outreach and information activities.


Educating professionals about ZNE through outreach

PG&E’s ZNE outreach activities include workshops and educational series. Workshops will help design professionals learn about creating ZNE buildings and are offered through PG&E’s Pacific Energy Training Center and PG&E’s Stockton Energy Training Center. PG&E also holds speaker forums and presentations on key ZNE topics for building professionals and residential customers. For a calendar of upcoming seminars and on demand classes, visit PG&E Energy Centers

PG&E developed and has been holding the annual zero net energy design competition, Architecture at Zero, since 2011. The competition solicits state of the art design concepts for Zero Net Energy building and is open to a wide range of building and environmental professionals, as well as students.


ZNE technical studies and research underway

PG&E currently supports two major research efforts. The first study aims to establish effective and verifiable methods to evaluate ZNE home performance and compare modeled to observed home performance, while the second study aims to explore and develop models for in-home miscellaneous electric loads. A study to examine community-level distributed energy resources to achieve ZNE is currently being scoped and is expected to begin in early 2016. Previous studies are located in the sidebars.


Providing ZNE design and technical assistance

PG&E supports ZNE developments at different project phases and partners with world-class advisory teams that help projects meet energy ZNE goals with design and technical assistance. These teams also share knowledge through case studies with residential and commercial customers.

PG&E is currently focusing on two design and technical assistance efforts as part of its ongoing ZNE activities. As part of its ZNE Production Builder Demonstration, PG&E is coordinating with a number of production builders in its service territory to design, construct, and monitor the performance of ZNE prototype homes. PG&E is also working with several school districts to provide technical and financial assistance to schools implementing ZNE retrofits as part of Proposition 39.


Towards achieving ZNE

Achieving ZNE for residential new construction by 2020 takes a dedicated, statewide effort. The California Advanced Homes Program (CAHP), the California Multifamily New Homes Program, and the CAHP Master Builder initiative support residential builders as they take steps towards this big goal. These programs provide builders with incentives, design assistance, verification support and recognition for constructing projects better than code and on the pathway to ZNE.

CAHP and CMFNH work with builder project teams, Title 24 consultants, and HERS raters to shift the market towards designing and building efficient, low energy use buildings. Incentives increase as buildings get closer to ZNE. Large incentive bonuses are available for homes designed to be ZNE-ready, or that are incorporating the most impactful and challenging efficiency measures that are necessary for ZNE construction.


Contact us

For inquires about PG&E's ZNE activities, email