The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has launched the Net Zero Energy Building Certification program. Modeled in connection with the Living Building Challenge, the program’s certifications are based at least 12 months of consecutive performance data.

The Net Zero Energy Building Certification program follows the structure of the Living Building Challenge to document compliance. Buildings must address four imperatives:

1. Limits to Growth. Buildings may only be built on grayfields of brownfields—previously developed sites that are not classified as sensitive ecological habitats. In documenting this imperative, firms must provide a historic image taken no later than Dec. 31, 2007 that shows the site and its adjacent properties to a minimum distance of 100 feet before the building property line. Existing buildings operational prior to Dec. 31, 2007 are exempt.

2. Net Zero Energy. One hundred percent of the building’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis. Renewable energy for the program is defined as passive solar, photovoltaics, wind turbines, solar thermal, direct geothermal, water-powered microturbines, or fuel cells powered by hydrogen generated from renewable powered electrolysis.  No combustion is allowed and green tags or green power purchases are not recognized as compliance paths. Teams must supply a completed energy usage table with monthly information gathered from tracking systems that record energy consumed and produced, as well as energy bills for a continuous 12-month period.

3. Rights to Nature. The building may not block access to, nor diminish the quality of fresh air, sunlight, and natural waterways to any member of society or adjacent developments. Teams must provide calculations or 3D diagrams demonstrating compliance with maximum shading allowances of adjacent properties.

4. Beauty + Spirit, Inspiration + Education. The building must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit, and place appropriate to its function. Educational materials about the performance and operation of the building must be provided to the public to share successful solutions and to motive others to make change. As part of this imperative, teams must conduct a survey of building occupants and users and hold at least one annual open day to educate the public about the building’s systems and achievements.

For more information on the program, visit