5 Examples of Net Zero Buildings Around the World

Green Building - Net Zero Energy Buildings

Consumers and businesses worldwide are increasingly concerned about rising energy costs, energy independence, and the effects of climate change.

In response, many people in many countries are searching for ways to combat climate change, such as providing incentives for electric vehicles, improving recycling efforts, adopting renewable energy solutions, and developing net zero buildings.

What Is a Net Zero Energy Building?


5 Examples Of Net Zero Buildings Around The World
Bullitt Center Seattle, a net zero energy building

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, net zero buildings produce the same — if not more — amounts of energy as they consume annually. Some net zero structures can create an energy surplus, contributing fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) than traditional buildings.

These buildings are a top priority for the U.S. government. According to the Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, all new construction and modernization projects larger than 25,000 ft² will be designed, constructed, and operated to be net zero by 2030. 

Some of the main goals of this initiative are to move away from fossil fuels, use carbon pollution-free electricity, leverage technology to reduce GHGs, and use data analytics systems for ongoing monitoring.

In addition to some buildings being considered net zero, many earn various LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications. The LEED certification system is the world's most widely used green building rating system, so receiving this certification is quite an accomplishment.

Many developers are looking to retrofit existing buildings to achieve net zero emissions, or build new structures capable of supporting a net zero approach. Numerous net zero facilities already exist and support climate change mitigation efforts.

5 Examples: Net Zero Buildings Across the Globe


Below are 5 examples of net zero buildings, where they are, and what makes them so sustainable -


1. The Unisphere


5 Examples Of Net Zero Buildings Around The World
United Therapeutics Unisphere

The United Therapeutics Unisphere is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is one of the largest net-zero buildings in the world.

Its primary purpose is to manage the development of an unlimited number of transplantable organs for patients in need.

The site will leverage various renewable energy technologies, such as high-efficiency solar panels, geothermal energy, electrochromic glass, natural daylight, and a centralized building automation system. According to the Unisphere’s official website, the project must earn at least a LEED Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, but the team plans on reaching an even higher rating.


2. DBS’ Newton Green


5 Examples Of Net Zero Buildings Around The World
DBS’ Newton Green

Buildings in Singapore make up 20% of the country’s total carbon emissions, meaning building more net-zero structures is critical if the nation wants to combat climate change. One new building — DBS’ Newton Green — is considered the 19th building on the country’s running list of net-zero buildings.

The building underwent retrofitting, as it now has a solar panel roof and uses low-energy appliances to achieve its net zero status. Technologies like driveways made from a mix of unrecyclable plastic and reprocessed asphalt waste also make the site more sustainable.


3. The Floating Office Rotterdam


Floating Office Rotterdam

Located in the Netherlands, the Floating Office Rotterdam (FOR) houses three offices, including the new home for Powerhouse Company, the organization behind the FOR project. The building’s foundation is a concrete pontoon, so its name is accurate — it actually does float.

It’s a three-story wooden building, so it can eventually be reused or recycled. Solar panel arrays are on the roof of the FOR and water from underneath the building is used in an integrated cooling system.


4. Aktiv-Stadthaus


5 Examples Of Net Zero Buildings Around The World

In Frankfurt, Germany, the multi-story residential building known as Aktiv-Stadthaus is not just net zero — it’s considered an energy-plus building. This means that the structure produces more energy than it consumes throughout the year.

Thermal solar energy heats water and air in the building, and its apartments are fitted with heat recovery ventilation units. The roof of Aktiv-Stadthaus also has a highly efficient photovoltaic system, which can generate up to 251 kWh of energy.


5. SCGZero+


5 Examples Of Net Zero Buildings Around The World

The SCGZero+ building broke ground in January 2021 and is located in Shanghai, China. According to dB(A) — the developer of SCGZero+ — it will be considered the first “5Zero” office building. This means it will be zero carbon, zero water, zero energy, zero waste, and zero formaldehyde.

The SCGZero+ building will house around 400 employees and is trying to reach the highest LEED, BREEAM, WELL, China3Star, and China Healthy Building ratings possible.

Achieving Sustainability Through Construction


Despite these examples making up a short list, there are plenty of other low-energy or net-zero buildings worldwide, and even more net zero projects in the works. These buildings are only a piece of the puzzle regarding sustainability and combating climate change.

However, since buildings account for a significant portion of a country’s carbon footprint, it’s vital to ensure new buildings are meeting these sustainability standards. As more time goes on, expect more net-zero buildings to crop up.

Article by Jane Marsh

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of