Defining Positive Energy – A Spectrum Approach

In order to identify Positive Energy Buildings it is necessary to define what we mean by positive energy. However, developing a unique definition of a “positive energy building” and tracking only the buildings that adhere to this definition may be too restrictive given the current market status, the plurality of design approaches and the different climatic conditions of countries.

In light of this, the GBPN has chosen to develop a spectrum of criteria to define and identify Positive Energy Buildings. This can be applied in all geographic contexts and also considers ‘nearby’ positive energy buildings. The criteria form part of a framework that provides a systematic methodology for assessing the merits of different approaches to the design of positive energy buildings. The degree of flexibility provided by this approach facilitates the use of different design strategies and illustrates the varying degrees of ambition in the design of positive energy buildings. The methodology assumes that all buildings are connected to an electricity grid.

The criteria developed describe the main aspects or characteristics of positive energy buildings. The criteria include:

Five "types"  or "cases" of positive energy buildings have been defined. Each of these cases set different levels of stringency relating to the fulfillment of the criteria listed above. The five cases of positive energy buildings are defined in the table below. Full details of the requirements of each of these definitions as they correspond to the criteria can be accessed in the document attached at the bottom of the page

The intention is that individual projects can be assessed using these criteria and that the results of the assessment will help to categorise existing projects based on their level of ambition. Results of the analysis will be illustrated using a spider diagram similar to the one below. A full dark green circule illustrates the "ideal case" zero energy footprint building. However, a building may score full marks under one category but not under another. This categorization will support the identification of best practice examples while also highlighting buildings that have made significant progress in a particular aspect of design but that could be of benefit to the design of future buildings if complemented by other progressive and integrated solutions. 

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