Positive Energy Buildings

In 2013, GBPN in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) launched the 1 Billion m2 of Positive Energy Buildings Campaign. This campaign aims to support the significant up-scale of buildings that produce more energy than they consume globally. Such a paradigm shift in the building sector is necessary if we are to tackle the predicted climate change impacts of the historically unprecedented boom in new construction in emerging economies and to ensure the supply of affordable energy for all.


Positive energy buildings are technically feasible and with increased uptake will become cheaper and more accessible.  However, in order to do this we need to move beyond demonstration and scale up to mainstream implementation. This will require a bottom up push to transform construction and power markets and it is essential that governments align regulatory policies, which ‘push’ the market by increasing mandatory energy performance with incentives and voluntary measures that ‘pull’ the market forward by driving demand.

As part of the campaign, we aim to document current examples of positive energy developments and to build the case for significantly up-scaling these buildings. The first stage of this project involves defining positive energy buildings in order to support the documentation of current examples. Documenting examples of positive energy buildings will help to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of such buildings and the growing demand for these buildings globally. Documentation of examples can also help to build support the case for further investment in this area.

Defining Positive Energy

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NZEB are buildings that over a year are neutral, meaning that they deliver as much energy to the supply grids as they use from the grids. Seen in these terms they do not need any fossil fuel for heating, cooling, lighting or other energy uses although they sometimes draw energy from the grid. [Source: IEA (Laustsen J.) (2008) Energy Efficiency Requirements in Building Codes, Energy Efficiency Policies for New Buildings.]

A net zero emissions building produces at least as much emissions-free renewable energy as it uses from emissions producing energy sources. [Source: Torcellini et al. 2006]

A positive energy building is a building that on average over the year produces more energy from renewable energy sources than it imports from external sources. This is achieved using combination of small power generators and low-energy building techniques such as passive solar building design, insulation and careful site selection and placement. [Source: European Commission]

No definition

Zero Energy Buildings are buildings that do not use fossil fuels but only get all their required energy from solar energy and other renewable energy sources. [Source: IEA (Laustsen J.) (2008) Energy Efficiency Requirements in Building Codes, Energy Efficiency Policies for New Buildings.]