Check out this video by the U.S. Department of Energy that explains what a zero energy buildings is and how it works.

better buildings

Zero energy homes and commercial buildings are just like any building–except better. They are regular grid-tied buildings that are so airtight, well insulated, and energy efficient that with solar collectors they produce as much renewable energy as they consume over the course of a year, leaving the occupants with a net zero energy bill, and a carbon-free building.

even greener

A zero energy building is not just a “green home” or a commercial building with solar panels. A zero energy building combines advanced design and superior building systems with energy efficiency and on-site solar panels to produce a better building. Zero energy buildings are ultra-comfortable, much healthier, quieter, more sustainable buildings and less costly to own than standard buildings.

 
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ZERO ENERGy ready

Zero energy ready buildings are designed and built to the same high energy efficiency standards as zero energy buildings. The only difference is that zero energy ready buildings are designed and wired so that solar panels can be easily installed in the future, making them even more affordable today, and allowing them to become zero energy in the future. The U. S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home Program certifies zero energy ready homes across the country, including in Oregon.