Achieving Zero Net Energy in Multi-family Buildings

Strategies for Achieving Zero Net Energy Multifamily Buildings

Franklin Energy Services, LLC


Oakland, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The project is in its final phase. After delays due to the pandemic, there was difficulty accessing the buildings to retrieve the monitoring equipment. In October 2020, the project team was able to retrieve all monitoring equipment and SD cards from the sites. Data is now being analyzed. The recipient is working on the final report.

The Issue

There is a critical need for more research and evaluation of zero net energy multifamily design and construction approaches and practices. Many key design issues remain poorly understood in the multifamily sector, particularly for emerging all-electric heating, ventilating and air conditioning and domestic hot water technologies. These include the performance and economic trade-offs of technology solutions, lack of agreement between design and actual performance for key emerging technologies, and a lack of understanding of how these technologies will impact tenants and property managers.

Project Innovation

This project demonstrates the potential of breakthrough electric water heating and space conditioning technologies as a pathway to zero net energy. The project explores the complex, interdependent systems in multifamily buildings and how they work together to achieve zero net energy status for the buildings in a cost-effective manner. Four multifamily buildings, designed to be affordable, are to be evaluated in various stages of design and development. These buildings share a goal of all electric zero net energy construction with 100 percent renewable energy generation, and utilize innovative new heat pump technologies to serve the buildings water heating and/or space conditioning needs.

Project Benefits

The project demonstrates the technical and economic feasibility of zero net energy design for large multifamily projects and establishes design and installation best practices that minimize risks for developers. This includes documentation of best practices to ensure that energy and cost benefits of zero net energy are fully realized and identified, including the trade-offs between technology solutions, capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, environmental benefits and grid impacts.

Lower Costs


This project helps developers make more informed zero net energy design decisions which may reduce construction costs for multifamily buildings up to $2,000 per apartment and lower future operating (e.g., energy) costs for building owners and occupants.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Amy Dryden

Senior Technical Manager



Association for Energy Affordability


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Redwood Energy


Stone Energy Associates




Abraxas Energy Consulting, LLC


Match Partners


Corporation for Better Housing


MidPen Housing Corp.


Contact the Team