Strategic Energy Action Plan

Action Area 7: Near Zero Carbon Non-Municipal Buildings By 2050

Buildings are crucial to a low carbon future. They are the biggest energy consumers and therefore are the biggest component of emissions in Charlotte. The City will use the ‘5 Stages to Zero Carbon Energy’ diagram when retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new ones. It is necessary to consider the longevity and energy consumption of new and existing buildings, together with the potential for low carbon energy sources and on-site generation. It is also important to consider how buildings will interact with current and future infrastructure and the people within them.

The City is expanding rapidly. New residents require housing, workplaces, and the infrastructure to support them. This includes healthcare, schools, retail outlets, leisure facilities, and the hospitality industry. The location of these buildings and their proximity to facilities and transportation infrastructure affects how people live in the short, medium, and long term. This means that in the absence of coordinated planning efforts, energy consumption patterns can be set for decades.

This action area identifies two overarching categories where the greatest impact can be had: 1) retrofitting (deep weatherization) of existing buildings and, 2) low carbon construction of new buildings.

Task 1: Form a Building Working Group in FY21

CREDIT will not be able to deliver a near zero carbon building stock itself. It will need to work through and with partners. It is therefore recommended to set up a working group specializing in getting to near zero carbon for buildings. This group will need to comprise experts from academia, construction, planning, energy systems, and infrastructure to inform and direct it. To achieve such a future will require, per the scenarios produced, a system for buildings that is largely based on electricity.

Task 2: Make Existing Residential Buildings Low Carbon by 2050

The existing building stock is the biggest challenge to nearly every city striving towards a low carbon future. They require a considerable amount of work and effort with a diverse ownership, including homeowners, landlords, mixed use developments and multi-family occupancy.

Step 1: Develop an ongoing educational program with partners on the opportunities associated with retrofitting

Understanding how to reduce energy consumption, shift demand, and increase renewable generation onsite is limited and needs to be increased as part of this long-term transition to near zero carbon. CREDIT will need to support and develop programs through the working group with for-profit partners such as Duke, as well as through non-profit organizations like RETI.

Step 2: Develop deep retrofitting example demonstrations (or varying types – detached, multi-family, attached single family development) to net-zero energy levels

CREDIT, in partnership with the working groups, will need to utilize RIDs to pilot and show proofs of concept for varying types of buildings, including carbon negative, high carbon, and low carbon buildings. Like the North End Smart District Smart Homes program, these demonstrations could use technology to inform their inhabitants on how to reduce future utility bills.

Step 3: Consider policy to stop natural gas boiler implementation and replacement by 2025

Delivering a near zero carbon building stock by 2050 requires discontinuing the installation of gas boilers and their replacements as soon as possible. This was the policy that stemmed from each GRIP scenario session, due to the longevity of the boilers (over 20 years). Continuing to use and install natural gas distribution for hydrogen or biogas was consistently discounted as unviable.

Step 4: Develop a workforce pipeline of qualified workers trained in deep energy retrofits

Deep energy retrofits at the scale required to drive the transition will require many laborers to deliver. The development of a low carbon future is dependent on achieving such energy retrofits of differing sizes. These will all require an expansion in the labor force above that of today.

Step 5: Utilize the RIDs as further proof of concept and move forward with retrofitting roll out

The working groups will need to establish with the Energy Ambassador the criteria for the RIDs. Retrofitting will need to be a key component of each of the RIDs with the level to be established. With an estimated number of households of approximately 500,000 by 2050, homes will likely need to be retrofitted at an increasing rate from 2030 onward. The scale of this will need to be established but is likely to be around 1,000 per month in 2030, increasing to as much as 5,000 by 2045. This level of retrofitting will also need to be maintained and will require additional workforce.

Task 3: Influence the Energy Requirements of New Residential Buildings to be Near- Zero Carbon by 2050

New buildings exist on average for over 100 years, so buildings constructed today ensure a particular energy pathway going forward. Strong policies, in collaboration with the County and State, are therefore required to achieve a near zero carbon building stock.

Step 1: Exert influence to establish minimum building standards for energy efficiency with scaled introductions to net zero energy by 2030

Raising the minimum building standard is required to ensure that the future energy system is not overburdened with meeting the future energy needs of its inhabitants. This requires a scaled introduction of minimum building standards, appropriate training, and effective rollout. There are standards in place, but to achieve the target, a design that permits net-zero energy development by 2030 is required. This necessitates an appropriate skill set that places additional requirements onto workforce development.

Step 2: Incentivize alternatives to gas boilers by 2022

See Action Area 7, Task 2, Step 3.

Step 3: Incorporate cutting-edge low-carbon residences into Resilient Districts targeted with new mixed-use developments.

The RIDs should trial opportunities for low carbon developments at new mixed-use sites. CREDIT should work with the County, developers, and home owners to help identify and incentivize ways to make the residence low carbon. These developments allow for the implementation of new systems of heat, cooling, and electricity provision. An option could be to direct projects to the Hybrid Collaborative Design Team (HCDT) for a quicker permit and approval process.

Step 4: Ensure sufficient capacity at all developments for electric vehicle infrastructure.

Meeting the electricity requirements for charging vehicles requires a grid capable of supporting it. Sites should include charging points and spare capacity to connect additional ones. These systems could share the electricity supply to enable rapid charging where required, when other vehicles on the same supply do not require rapid charging.

Step 5: Exert influence to implement minimum requirements for renewable generation of 10% by 2022 sliding up to 40% by 2030.

A minimum standard specifying the percentage of energy consumption to be sourced from onsite renewable energy generation is needed to facilitate the long term installed infrastructure that is needed to deliver a near-zero carbon building stock. The gradual introduction of a minimum requirement is necessary to support the 2tCO2e target. This will need to be done in collaboration with the County and the State.

Step 6: Identify incentives or programs that help to inc orporate installation of batteries into new residences

Storage in the form of batteries is a very helpful component of shifting energy demand throughout the day. Such storage can be topped off through solar during the day for deployment at night. It can also charge at night through smart grids in anticipation of cloudy days. These technological approaches are made possible through specifications at the point of construction and can serve as a data input to the data requirements of Action Area 11.

Task 4: Make existing non-residential buildings low carbon by 2050

The existing non-residential building stock requires retrofitting in much the same way as the existing housing stock. There are additional challenges associated with ownership, lease length, construction quality, and associated standards of energy efficiency. This makes the use of RIDs particularly valuable for testing solutions in order to identify business models that can deliver near-zero carbon buildings.

Step 1: Exert influence to establish minimum building standards for energy efficiency with scaled introductions to net-zero energy by 2030

See Action Area 7, Task 3, Step 1.

Step 2: Incentivize alternatives to gas boilers by 2022

See Action Area 7, Task 2, Step 3.

Step 3: Ensure sufficient capacity at all developments for electric vehicle infrastructure.

See Action Area 7, Task 3, Step 4.

Step 4: Establish opportunities with demand side management to link heat requirements in mixed-use developments

Through the RIDs, innovative approaches can be incorporated that have been proven in other countries. These include the ability to share waste heat between buildings, as well as utilize heat dumps56 such as swimming pools.

Step 5: Establish Smart Energy Now 2.0 and PACE programs

CREDIT will need to establish a partnership with a local organization and UNCC to deploy a Smart Energy Now 2.0 program that works on educating building operators and facilities managers to operate buildings more efficiently. CREDIT should also work with the working group to establish how this could be incorporated into PACE funding programs to encourage active standards today.

Step 6: Incorporate best energy practice into developer outreach and communication

CREDIT will, through the working group, establish mechanisms of communication with current and potential developers within Charlotte to improve efficiency standards for new developments. The knowledge attached to these development types can also be incorporated into retrofitting projects.

Task 5: Make New Non-Residential Buildings Low Carbon by 2050

The development of new non-residential buildings brings with it opportunities for minimizing energy requirements, integrating renewable energy generation, and being creative with transportation solutions.

56 A heat dump is a term for where heat can be placed instead of being wasted entirely. This is usually a space that requires heating, it may be one like a swimming pool that doesn’t need heat but may want it.

Step 1: Exert influence to establish minimum building standards for energy efficiency with scaled introductions to net-zero energy by 2030

See Action Area 7, Task 3, Step 1.

Step 2: Incentivize alternatives to gas boilers by 2022

See Action Area 7, Task 2, Step 3.

Step 3: Develop a shared solar model where each owner pays solar installation cost based on their peak demand

There will need to be innovative energy service style solutions to reducing energy costs into the future and ensuring that they come from low carbon sources. This means looking to solutions at sites where there is a landlord and multiple businesses within the property. A set of example buildings would need to done in the first instance to test and demonstrate the opportunity.

Step 4: Form educational packages on the benefits of consistent pricing for renewables

CREDIT, with the working group and partners should form training packages, for commercial building owners and their tenants to inform them of the opportunities attached to energy in a low carbon future. This type of outreach and engagement is a key component of building links to commercial building operators that can bring about the needed transition. This can be used to demonstrate how low carbon building design can be useful to their business both in terms of energy savings and in terms of their Corporate Social Responsibility.

Step 5: Work with new building owners to trial an Energy Service Company (ESCO) on site, where all lessees pay for heat, cooling, lighting, and local transportation rather than electricity

CREDIT, in partnership with the building working group, can work to include in a RID a commercial building or district where energy services are sold, rather than electricity, to establish working business models. These services may include lighting, refrigeration, cooling, heating, and local transportation.

Step 6: Incentivize ongoing reporting and minimum standard targets for sites

Identify opportunities for incentives for providing consistent reporting and setting of minimum targets in the development phase. This can help develop a greater real-time understanding of energy data and should be developed in tandem with recommendations in Action Area 11.

Step 7: Maximize potential for renewables on-site

CREDIT, in partnership with the building working group and partners, should identify opportunities to incorporate on-site renewable energy generation for heating and electricity in new development construction across Charlotte.

Step 8: Enable fast-tracking of applications that meet minimum standards

CREDIT, in partnership with the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, should develop a pilot process and clear project requirements to accelerate applications through the approval process that meet high efficiency standards. These developments would then be approved faster and receive dedicated support opportunities with them. This may include buildings that utilize passive temperature.