Vision of ZERO-PLUS

Achieving near Zero and Positive Energy Settlements in Europe using Advanced Energy Technology

ZERO-PLUS is a comprehensive, cost-effective system for the design, construction and monitoring of Net Zero Energy Settlements which has been tested and implemented in four pilot projects across Europe. ZERO-PLUS provides the market with an innovative, yet readily implementable combination of services and tools for designing and building NZE residential neighbourhoods that will significantly reduce both their initial and operational costs. It was born from a vision aiming to simplify the design and construction process of highly energy efficient buildings, by using an integrated, iterative and collaborative approach to design and construction management. Consequently, the ZERO-PLUS concept can achieve the following:

  • Housing that achieves renewable energy and energy savings targets set by the recipient at the lowest possible cost;
  • Clear information on the trade-offs between cost and performance;
  • Ensure that the recipient has all the information they need for optimal, cost-effective maintenance.

The cutting-edge aspect of the ZERO-PLUS concept is its focus on the settlement-level and on integrating cost and construction considerations from the outset of building design. The level of performance required for a settlement is defined at the outset.

The targets of the pilot projects were that compared to a reference highly efficient building, the ZERO-PLUS building will achieve:

  • 16% initial cost reduction compared to reference case calculated comparing technologies selected by ZERO-PLUS against conventional technologies that would achieve the same energy performance;
  • Net regulated energy consumption of less than 20 kWh/m2 per year;
  • Energy production by Renewable Energy Sources (RES) of at least 50 kWh/m2 per year.

Each of these targets is achieved by implementing specific measures and processes that are at the core of the optimisation and management approach of ZERO-PLUS.

The cost reduction is achieved through the careful selection of innovative technologies that increase the efficiency of building components providing energy conservation and energy production in settlements. This reduces initial costs by allowing, for example, less material and space to be used for energy conservation and energy production. Technology selection is addressed through technology scouting at the design phase. Examples of technology types considered range from improved insulation, innovative HVAC, to efficient wind and solar energy producing components.

The required levels of performance are achieved through a carefully calibrated combination of investments in high levels of energy efficiency (for instance through improved insulation) and investment in renewable energy technologies. Energy production using renewable energy sources is not only a way to support the shift towards resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient buildings and districts; it is also a cost-efficient investment on the long-term.



Objectives of ZERO-PLUS

The goal of this project is to provide the market with an innovative, yet readily implementable system for NZE residential neighbourhoods that will significantly reduce their costs. Consequently, the project has the following objectives:

  • The first objective of the project is a reduction of the operational energy usage in residential buildings to an average of 0-20 kWh/m² per year, compared with the current average of 70-230 kWh/m² energy per year. The reduced energy consumption will be attained through the application of a number of technologies, including highly efficient insulation, heating and lighting, as well as automated Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) in four selected case studies of 2270 m² of buildings.
  • In order to achieve the NZE goal, at least 50 kWh/m² renewable energy per year will be generated, on average, in the NZE settlement. This objective will be attained through the integration in the settlement of innovative energy production technologies such as Linear Fresnel Reflectors, advanced building integrated photovoltaics (biPV) and advanced wind driven energy production systems.
  • Greater energy efficiency can only be achieved through a transition from single NZE buildings to NZE settlements, in which the energy loads and resources are optimally managed. This objective will be attained through the application of solutions for the distribution network, energy storage and micro grid control on a district level, as well as through an optimum climatic management of the open spaces in the settlement.
  • The cost of NZE settlements will be reduced by at least 16%, compared with current costs. This cost reduction will be achieved through a strategy of mass customization. To achieve this objective, a modular building system will be developed that is customized and optimized according to the specific requirements of each building and settlement, yet is implemented through cost-effective industrialized processes.
  • To ensure that the results of this project will have an impact on the building industry, the final objective is a market uptake of the solutions developed in this project by the year 2018. This will be attained through the demonstration of the solutions in four different real-life case studies across the EU under different climatic conditions, and through the dissemination and exploitation of the results of these case studies, based on a comprehensive market analysis and business plan.
  • To support the shift towards resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient buildings and districts, by enhancing the role of Europe’s construction industry in the reduction of the EU’s carbon footprint by almost 77kg CO/m² with a total of approximately 200 tonnes CO offset for all ZERO-PLUS case studies.


The ZERO-PLUS concept

The ZERO-PLUS project has developed a method and accompanying tools to provide an overarching solution to the barriers to successful construction of new residential Net Zero Energy Settlements (NZES). Focusing on the settlement-level instead of on single buildings, the ZERO-PLUS approach aims to bring together technology suppliers, energy efficiency and renewable energy experts and developers who work together from the earliest stages of project conception to optimise the NZES design. ZERO-PLUS is a comprehensive, cost-effective system for the design, construction and monitoring of Net Zero Energy Settlements which has been tested and implemented in four pilot projects across Europe (in France, the UK, Italy and Cyprus). Application of the ZERO-PLUS approach ensures achievement of cost, energy use and renewable energy production targets. The targets to be achieved can be adjusted as needed for specific cases.

In the pilot projects, it is expected that the following objectives of the ZERO-PLUS project will be met or exceeded:

  • 16% cost reduction compared to the reference case
  • Net regulated energy consumption of < 20 kWh/m2/year
  • Energy production by RES of > 50 kWh/m2/year

The added-value of the ZERO-PLUS approach lies in the cost effectiveness of the construction process, thanks to the application of an integrated approach to building design, and the optimisation of the energy load for each building by designing the energy generation system at the settlement level. The benefits that result from the application of the ZERO-PLUS concept can be summarised as follows:

The diagram below illustrates the ZERO-PLUS concept for Net Zero Energy Settlement design and construction. At the top of the diagram, in grey, we show the toolkit developed. In the body of the diagram we show the main steps of this approach to design, construction and occupancy. Arrows between the steps show the linkages between the steps.

Detailed ZERO-PLUS concept for Net Zero Energy Settlement design and construction


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Members login


I agree to the processing of my given personal data for the shipment of the ZERO-PLUS newsletter through TUM.

At any given time, without affecting the legitimacy of the processing of my data on the basis of prior approval, I may withdraw my consent until my submission of consent on the basis of Article 6(1) General Data Protection Regulation. Upon receiving my notice of withdrawal of consent, the controller will directly delete all of my personal data from the shipment of the newsletter.

Our processor in the context of the mailing is: rapidmail (

By law, participants have a right to information, rectification, erasure, restriction of processing, or objection to processing or data portability. Furthermore, participants have a right of complaint and the right to appeal to the Bavarian commissioner for data protection.

Further questions or a withdrawal should be addressed to us (info(at) or the data protection (