Net Zero Hierarchy

Net zero hierarchy

The net zero vision is a holistic approach to addressing energy, water and waste.  This approach is a force multiplier that enables engineers, architects, builders and others to apropriately steward resources, manage costs, and provide communities with a sustainable future.  The net zero vision ensures that sustainable practices will be instilled and managed through resource management by the owners and operators of buildings and other facilities. 

The net zero approach is comprised of five interrelated steps: reduction, re-purposing, recycling and composting, energy recovery, and disposal.  Each step is a link toward achieving net zero.  

  • Reduction includes maximizing energy efficiency in existing facilities, implementing water conservation practices, and eliminating generation of unnecessary waste.  
  • Re-purposing involves diverting energy, water or waste to a secondary purpose with limited processes.  
  • Recycling or composting involves management of the solid waste stream, development of closed loop systems to reclaim water, or cogeneration where two forms of energy (heat and electricity) are created from one source.  
  • Energy recovery can occur from converting unusable waste to energy, renewable energy or geothermal water sources.  
  • Disposal is the final step and last resort after the last drop of water, the last thermal energy, and all other waste mitigation strategies have been fully executed.
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