Nation's first retrofitted zero-energy building opens in California

The Zero Net Energy Center is designed to reduce energy usage 75% below similar existing buildings

May 31, 2013 |

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association announced the grand opening of the Zero Net Energy Center (

Located in San Leandro, Calif., the ZNE Center is the first commercial building retrofit designed to meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s requirements for a “zero net energy” building. 

The 46,000-sf structure is an educational facility for 2,000 electrical workers that will participate in a program run by IBEW Local 595 and the Northern California Chapter of NECA. The ZNE Center officially opens its doors as the educational facility for over 2,000 apprentice and journey-level electricians in Alameda County and to serve as an industry-wide resource. 


Courtesy Environmental Building Strategies (EBS). CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.


“The building is a true game changer for our industry,” said Victor Uno, Business Manager for IBEW Local 595. “We are proud to push the envelope in the areas of energy conservation efforts, renewable energy promotion, job creation, work-force training and labor-management cooperation.”

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The ZNE Center exceeds the state of California’s 2030 energy efficiency effort by meeting the zero net goal 17 years in advance. It also exceeds the energy conservation goals of the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Challenge.

“We look forward to sharing how we utilized new technologies, advanced building designs, and innovative construction methods to achieve a dramatic and unprecedented 75% reduction in energy use when compared to similar existing commercial buildings in the country," said Don Campbell Executive Director of NECA’s Northern California Chapter. “This energy savings lowers the ZNE Center’s carbon footprint by 175 tons of CO2 per year, equal to the carbon emitted by 30 passenger vehicles annually as well as a savings of 500 barrels of oil each year.”



The ZNE Center exemplifies the importance of deep and early collaboration of the entire design and construction team. Under the leadership of IBEW/NECA, the team included Environmental Building Strategies (EBS), NOVO Construction, FCGA Architects, Belden Consulting Engineers, Red Top Electric, ACCO Mechanical, and Cubed Energy Solutions.

Project overview and sustainability stats

· The ZNE Center is the new home of the IBEW Local 595 and the Northern California Chapter of NECA Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee program, where apprentices will train on the renewable energy and passive design systems incorporated into the building.

· Their goal is to make the ZNE Center the hallmark of energy efficiency and training for the construction industry nation-wide, incorporating a vision for a more sustainable world where young men and women will be trained for good paying jobs and careers in the electrical industry.

· The 46,000-sf building is the first retrofit of an existing commercial building for education and training that meets the U.S. Department of Energy standards for a “zero net energy” building. It exceeds California’s 2030 zero net energy goal 17 years in advance, and also exceeds the goals of Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge.

· 50% lighting energy reduction through daylighting, occupancy sensors, LEDs, solar tubes and more

· 80% HVAC energy reduction

· 90% computer energy reduction by upgrading equipment to Energy Star certified

· 75% reduction in energy use compared to similar U.S. buildings, and 29% energy use reduction compared to new commercial construction in California.

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