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ZNE Discussion Tool
Check out our ZNE Tool

The discussion tool is a good place to start for all property owners and organizations interested in pursuing ZNE. It helps to reframe what are the options for achieving ZNE and how they connect to customer objectives. The actual tool is most effectively used for property owners and organizations with larger, multi-building projects associate with a campus, portfolio or neighborhood/district.

Paths to ZNE
Building Scale
(Onsite Solar Only)

ZNE is achieved onsite for a single building, as defined by producing as much energy as it uses over a year.

Building Scale (Solar and Storage Onsite)

ZNE is achieved onsite with storage capabilities, includes the ability to reduce solar generation/size of arrays and cover substantial percentage of non-solar generation times with storage.

Community Scale Solar (Local)

Local community scale solar serving multiple buildings. May be directly connected to building loads or nearby. 

Community Solar Plus Storage (Local)

As above with the addition of community scale storage and enhanced controls for demand response and load management.

District ZNE/Grid Connected Microgrid (Onsite)

Multi-faceted distributed energy system onsite, connected to the grid normally, but a level of self-reliance during events. May include CHP/district system.

Utility Scale Renewables
(Offsite, not local)

ZNE is achieved by utility owned/contracted power or by a third party PPA and wheeled through the grid.

What is a Grid-Friendly ZNE Project
The following characteristics, based on the CEC Advanced Energy Project Criteria outlines what we consider a grid-friendly ZNE project.
  • Minimize the need for new energy infrastructure costs such as transmission and distribution upgrades.


  • Provide energy savings by achieving high levels of energy efficiency and maintaining zero net energy status (accounting for behavior and increasing loads from vehicle and appliance electrification).


  • Support grid reliability and resiliency by incorporating technologies such as energy storage.


  • Provide easier grid integration and alignment with the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Long-Term Procurement Plan, and the California Independent System Operator’s local capacity requirements process.


  • Provide affordable access to renewable energy generation, energy efficiency upgrades, and water efficiency and reuse technologies that reduce electricity consumption for all electric ratepayers.


  • Makes use of smart-grid technologies in the project and when applicable throughout the community.

  • Align with other state energy and environmental policy goals at the community level such as the Sustainable Communities and Environmental Protection Act (Senate Bill 375, Steinberg, Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008).

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