A review of net zero energy buildings in hot and humid climates: Experience learned from 34 case study buildings
Sustainable development in the building sector requires the integration of energy efficiency and renewable energy utilization in buildings. In recent years, the concept of net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) has become a potential plausible solution to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption in buildings. To achieve an NZEB goal, building systems and design strategies must be integrated and optimized based on local climatic conditions. This paper provides a comprehensive review of NZEBs and their current development in hot and humid regions. Through investigating 34 NZEB cases around the world, this study summarized NZEB key design strategies, technology choices and energy performance. The study found that passive design and technologies such as daylighting and natural ventilation are often adopted for NZEBs in hot and humid climates, together with other energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. Most NZEB cases demonstrated site annual energy consumption intensity less than 100 kW-hours (kWh) per square meter of floor space, and some buildings even achieved “net-positive energy” (that is, they generate more energy locally than they consume). However, the analysis also shows that not all NZEBs are energy efficient buildings, and buildings with ample renewable energy adoption can still achieve NZEB status even with high energy use intensity. This paper provides in-depth case-study-driven analysis to evaluate NZEB energy performance and summarize best practices for high performance NZEBs. This review provides critical technical information as well as policy recommendations for net zero energy building development in hot and humid climates.