From Net Zero to Net Positive in Water and Energy Sectors: The Time is Now

By Ana LaRue, Digital Media Manager, Maximpact

The brightest minds in the energy and water sector gathered in San Francisco this past Tuesday and Wednesday for the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference, hosted by the International Living Future Institute.

At the center of discussion was application of net zero concepts to create productive, thriving communities by focusing on net zero energy and net zero water buildings that is, buildings that produce as much energy and water as they consume. Maximpact had the privilege to attend the event and we were inspired by the commitment of the green building community towards these most advanced measures of sustainability.

The conference shared the latest net zero water and energy ideas, technologies and applications from leading experts around the world. These advances showed that the field is ripe for expansion and full of innovative concepts and products, many of which represent attractive opportunities for impact investors. A lineup of inspiring speakers included:

– A memorable opening keynote by Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day and one of the great environmental leaders of our time, addressed the need to focus on performance in meeting the needs of modern society.

JasonMcLennan, CEO of the International Living Institute and an influential leader of the green building movement, discussed the need to create abundance in a constrained world. Our current relationship with water is dysfunctional, he said, setting the stage for a day dedicated to innovation and change in the water sector.

– Social justice advocate Maude Barlow made an impression on the audience with her ideas of water justice and the “New Water Ethics” needed to sustain our water supplies. She described the tough path toward winning recognition for the human right to water and sanitation. Understanding the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation to the realization of all human rights, she told us, is an important step for ensuring the long-term sustainability of our water supplies for the generations to come.

Keynote speakers were followed by education sessions, organized into three tracks: Energy Design, Water Design and Frontiers of Net Zero Energy. More brilliant speakers wrapped up a successful day focused on innovation in the sectors of water and energy.

The conference speakers frequently addressed the framework of the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard that includes revolutionary ideas such as prohibition of combustion. To join the challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. At the moment, five projects have achieved this most stringent level of performance, with many more awaiting certifications.

Net zero and its extension, net positive, are powerful and evolving models that incorporate many different elements such as biophila, biomimicry, social equity, beauty, technology and innovation. And while many approaches to net zero and net positive energy and water are still emerging, new technological development is set to provide us with vast new opportunities; something that all of us in the field of impact investing are especially excited about.

Future exciting events in this sector include the 2014 Green Build conference, which will be held on October 22-24, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Living Future Unconference, held on May21-23 in Portland, Oregon.

For more information on the event visit the event website or follow #NetPositive on Twitter.

Image credit: Maximpact, Future Living Institute

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