BuildZero - Social Infrastructure for Transformative Climate Action

1.0 Executive Summary

1.1 Introduction

BuildZero.Org has created a model for transformative change of how society understands energy use in buildings, plans and designs for efficient energy use, and includes renewable energy production in building and community design. Collectively buildings account for over 40% of US energy use and 30% of GHG emissions.1 The Paris Climate accord goal of “Below 2C” cannot be achieved without rapid large-scale transformation of the current building energy sector to “Zero Emissions” by 2030.2

1.2 The current equilibrium

Fundamental energy illiteracy is pervasive in the United States. Energy has historically been cheap and abundant. Until the threat of global warming emerged recently in the public consciousness there has not been a compelling reason for either ordinary citizens or building professionals to care about energy. Consequently, basic understanding of energy in general, and planning and design for its efficient use in buildings in particular, has not been valued nor required. The carbon impact of building energy use is not understood.


In the absence of an energy knowledge transformation thousands of poorly-designed, energy-inefficient, carbon-emitting, new buildings are completed every day. In urban areas, which progressively dominate population growth and formation of the built environment, 70% of energy is consumed by buildings.3 Driven by population growth and building replacements as much as 50% of the building stock in 2050 will have been designed and constructed during the next 30 years.4


The cultural status quo is energy ignorance or “opaqueness” of the energy information and knowledge flow essential for informed consumer decisions, planning, design, construction and operation of buildings to zero-emissions standards necessary for meeting the below 2C goal. Transforming this entrenched equilibrium requires a powerful model for revolutionary change that informs, motivates, empowers, and drives key market actors. It must scale globally.

1.3 BuildZero History

BuildZero.Org (BZ) was founded in 2015 by a small team of experienced Zero Energy designer/builders deeply familiar with the culture of energy illiteracy. The founding team has nearly two decades of experience embedded in the market interacting with key actors including: homeowners, architects, local governments, developers, builders, and utilities. The team added experienced data and software engineers as work began in 2016 on developing a Zero Energy building design tool to begin bridging the energy knowledge gap and moving toward energy transparency.

1.4 A Model for Energy Transparency

Over the course of three years of “bottom up” R&D BuildZero has evolved its understanding and vision into a model for transformative acceleration of energy information flow, knowledge development and application. BuildZero establishes a modern cloud platform of energy data and software applications as public infrastructure serving key built environment market actors with energy-focused data, information, knowledge and tools. Local governments are empowered with data and software tools for implementing building-focused climate action programs; homeowners have tools to engage, understand and make energy efficiency improvements; building professionals have powerful but easy-to-use software tools for planning, design and energy optimization of buildings.


BuildZero public digital infrastructure creates a multi-sided ecosystem for broad cross-sector collaboration and global scaling with a key role for youth to drive content, messaging and growth. BZ has established strong relationships with both US and European universities, research institutes and technical organizations at the center of global urban energy research, modeling and standards development for interoperability of data and software tools.

1.5 Value of Infrastructure

BuildZero public digital infrastructure creates significant social value. This includes:


  • Comprehensive public infrastructure creates “network” exponential growth effects and a social asset whose value increases cumulatively over time
  • National then global digital infrastructure creates significant economies of scale
  • Transparent energy information & knowledge drives superior consumer decisions, zero emissions planning and design
  • Engaged youth creates content, drives messaging and network effects at low cost
  • No cost, easy public access, modern “apps” platform enables “viral” growth patterns
  • Large scale creates sustainable social enterprise revenues in long run

1.6 Model Construction

Over the past three years BuildZero has refined its understanding of the current culture and market actors while envisioning a model for revolutionary change. BuildZero has developed the technical architecture of public digital infrastructure for building energy information and knowledge flow. Through extensive software prototyping it has proven the efficiency, interoperability and scalability of its cloud platform. BZ has established strong technical partnerships.  BZ has started developing content and implementation partnerships with academia, local governments, and leading climate action NGO’s.


BuildZero has a strong founding team that has laid the foundation for launching full-scale model construction. BuildZero is now seeking committed social capital partners that share its vision for revolutionary change and will lead collaborative funding of the model construction phase.