55.3 Zero Energy Building (ZEB) definitions – A literature review

Anna Joanna Marszal , Department of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Per Heiselberg , Department of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Full Papers
  • Zero Energy Building definitions.pdf (97.7 kB)
  • It is difficult to find a building, which can be named the first Zero Energy/Emission Building (ZEB). One of the reasons could be that maybe ZEB is not a new concept for a building, it is just a modern name for buildings, from times before district heating and electricity, heated with wood or straw and lighted with candles and domestic animals? 
    Nevertheless, in the late seventies and early eighties appeared few articles, in which phrases ‘a zero energy house’, ‘a neutral energy autonomous house’ or ‘an energy-independent house’ were used. It was the time when the consequences of the oil crisis became noticeable and the issue of the fossil fuels sources and the energy use started to be discussed. However, those papers were mainly focusing on the energy efficient technologies and passive solutions implemented in the building. Furthermore, only energy demand for space heating, domestic hot water and cooling were accounted in the ‘zero’, hence were they in fact buildings with zero energy use?
    Over the decades, in many articles and research projects number of ZEB’s were described and evaluated, however almost for each case the ZEB was defined different or sometimes even no exact definition was used. Recently, the lack of common understanding and common definition for ZEB became noticeable and the world wide discussion has begun. There are many studies available, in which authors tried to propose different definitions for ZEB depending on: 
    - how the zero energy goal is achieved
    - what is the building – grid interaction
    - unequal energy qualities in the energy balance
    - what are the project boundaries for the balance?
    The main objective of this paper is to describe and evaluate existing ZEB definitions. Based on this work are highlighted the issues, which should be resolved before developing new ZEB definition.