California Utilities Residential ZNE Market Characterization

TRC’s in-depth examination of the local ZNE new homes market helped California utilities identify opportunities and challenges to achieving ZNE goals.



California Utilities

Project Location


The state of California has established a goal for new residential construction to be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020. With this in mind, the California investor-owned utilities contracted a team led by TRC to conduct a market characterization of new ZNE single family homes and help them identify opportunities for and barriers to future ZNE new construction in California.

Through the study, the TRC team examined ZNE market size, home characteristics, geographical distribution, consumer awareness and perceptions, cost implications of building ZNE-type homes, and barriers to achieving the state’s ZNE residential new construction goals. Data and insights were collected through a variety of methods:

  • Literature reviews
  • Interviews with market actors experienced in “ZNE-type” homes (i.e., ZNE, near ZNE or ZNE-ready homes), such as utility program managers, builders, appraisers, lenders, local government officials, and regulatory staff
  • Interviews with owners of ZNE-type homes
  • Surveys among owners of energy-efficient homes
  • Forums conducted among owners of ZNE-type homes and owners of code-built homes.

TRC’s work identified that although it is technically feasible to achieve ZNE status in new residential buildings in California, the market is still in an innovator stage and market penetration is low. The study also demonstrated that there is vibrant activity in the emerging ZNE-type home market. TRC highlighted the need for provision of incentives, education, training and other support by utilities and regulatory agencies to ensure that California can successfully meet its ZNE goals.

Download our ACEEE paper "What More Can California Do to Achieve the 2020 Residential ZNE Goals? We Asked the Market"

Download our report Residential ZNE Market Characterization and Attachment.

For more information, visit the California Measurement Advisory Council website.

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