PG&E Advanced Building Characteristics

Key market study to support California building code accommodation of zero net energy building strategies.



Pacific Gas & Electric

Project Location


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) chose TRC to conduct a market study of commercial Zero Net Energy (ZNE) and near-ZNE (advanced) buildings that would inform ZNE policies, codes and standards. PG&E’s goals for the study included:

  • Cataloguing systems and strategies adopted by advanced buildings;
  • Identifying how California’s building energy efficiency code (Title 24) influences building design; and
  • Providing recommendations for how Title 24 could evolve to help meet California’s ZNE goals.

TRC interviewed 39 architects, engineers and facility managers—from project teams representing 25 advanced buildings—to gather details on design processes and building performance.  TRC combined interview results with case study research to catalogue the energy efficiency and distributed generation systems and strategies used. In addition, TRC identified overall trends in advanced building design and how Title 24 affected the design.

Based on the results, TRC identified common design elements, such as the use of daylighting, lighting controls, passive ventilation, thermal mass and compressor-less cooling strategies, as well as overarching practices such as integrated design. TRC then identified updates needed for Title 24 requirements and compliance software to better account for the energy savings from these advanced building strategies.

Through the study, TRC identified actionable recommendations to encourage the use of advanced building strategies and help ensure that code provides a compliance pathway for these strategies. PG&E is using these recommendations to inform current code improvements and plan for future code proposals.

Download our ACEEE paper "Integrated Packages for Advanced Buildings towards ZNE"

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