Examining the benefits and barriers for the implementation of net zero energy settlements

A. Mavrigiannaki, G. Pignatta, M. Assimakopoulos, M. Isaac, R. Gupta, D. Kolokotsa, M. Laskari, M. Saliari, I. A. Meir, S. Isaac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The transition of the Net Zero Energy (NZE) concept from building to settlement scale has been theoretically approached in a number of studies. This paper examines the benefits and barriers associated with the implementation of the NZE concept at a settlement scale, by adopting a comprehensive approach for the design, construction, and monitoring of NZE settlements that was developed in the EU Horizon 2020 ZERO-PLUS project and implemented in four case studies. First, the ZERO-PLUS approach is presented, followed by an analysis of associated benefits and encountered barriers. Next, the roles of different stakeholders involved in the process are identified through stakeholder analysis. Finally, new dynamics that emerge and are critical to the successful implementation of NZE settlements are discussed. The ZERO-PLUS approach leads to achieving NZE settlements with an initial cost that is on average 16% lower than the cost of a typical NZEB, while achieving a net regulated energy consumption of less than 20 kWh/m2/year and renewable energy production of more than 50 kWh/m2/year. The implementation of NZE settlements revealed two main issues: 1) the external barriers that were raised by the planning policies and regulations; and 2) the challenge of managing and integrating the needs and requirements of project stakeholders. To overcome these barriers while reaping the benefits of the approach, the management of such projects needs to focus from the outset on the establishment of a project management structure that will ensure the coordination and integration of various stakeholders. The use of a standardized collaboration protocol from the preliminary design stage is recommended to facilitate future projects. Simultaneously, regulations need to be updated towards facilitating NZE settlement implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110564
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Construction phase
  • Cost reduction
  • Design phase
  • High-performance buildings and communities
  • Holistic approach
  • Net Zero Energy (NZE) settlements
  • Operational phase
  • Project management
  • Settlement and building design
  • Stakeholder collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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