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Zero Code and cove.tool
Zero Code and cove.tool

An overview of zero code, the new Architecture 2030 initiative

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

What is zero code?

The Zero Code is a framework to integrate cost-effective & energy-efficiency standards with renewable energy (on- or off-site) to support the construction of zero-carbon buildings. The Zero Code applies to all new commercial, institutional, and mid- to high-rise residential buildings, ie. the dominant building types being constructed in cities today.

What are the zero code energy efficiency standards?

Complying with the Zero Code entails first meeting the minimum prescriptive or performance requirements for building energy efficiency defined by any of the following: ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016, ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2019, IECC 2021, 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2017, 2019 or the upcoming 2022 California BEES. As part of a standardized and predictable process to continue to advance energy efficiency, new standards that exceed the current standards will be incorporated into the ZERO Code as they are published.

Every jurisdiction can now adopt or incentivize a Zero Code standard for new building construction. There are multiple pathways to effectively reduce building sector emissions – through IECC Appendix CC: Zero Energy Commercial Building Provisions; adopting the Zero Code itself; or requiring, by ordinance or legislation, on-site and/or off-site renewable energy (see the Zero Code Renewable Energy Standard), and electrification and banning on-site fossil fuels use.

Zero Code Energy Calculator

Zero code energy calculator is a tool that estimates a building's energy consumption based on some simple inputs such as building location, building type, floor area, etc. Also, based on the energy consumption estimated by zero code/IECC 2021 Renewable Energy Appendix and the zero code 2.0 inputs, and the site solar PV information, it calculates the amount of energy that can be offset by onsite renewable energy production and the required off-site energy production. Read more about how to use zero code energy calculator here.

How cove.tool can do the same thing?

As mentioned above, the minimum requirement for net zero projects based on zero code description is meeting one of the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016, ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2019, IECC 2021, 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2017, 2019 or the upcoming 2022 California BEES code. All the prescriptive inputs for ASHRAE 90.1 2016, ASHRAE 90.1 2019, IECC 2021 are already provided by cove.tool. On top of that, what you can do in cove.tool which is not possible in zero code energy calculator is input customization. By customizing the inputs and feeding the tool with more accurate information, you will get a more precise estimation of your building energy consumption.

Following the zero code energy calculator method, you can pick ASHRAE 2019 - IECC 2021 Equivalent on the project info page and that will populate all the prescriptive values on the baseline energy page. However, you can go with more stringent and energy-efficient performance values to even lower the energy use intensity of your project and get closer to zero. Also, the baseline energy page provides you with a baseline EUI and a whole building EUI breakdown for different systems.

Next, to calculate the onsite renewable energy production with PV panels, you can go to the "energy generation tab" and input your solar panel surface area, angle, and module location. After inserting this information and hitting "Recalculate", you can see an estimation of energy that can be generated by PV panels in the EUI breakdown table.

Note that the amount of energy that can be offset by PVs will be subtracted and taken into account in the total EUI that you can see on the top right-hand side of the page. To go net-zero, you need to provide the remaining energy through off-site renewable energy sources.

Happy Modeling!!

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