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100% of technology is off-the-shelf now to make all buildings Net Zero Carbon! Ends water use for all electric generation and most chillers.



We present a 100% Net Zero Carbon (NZ) solution using existing, proven technologies (see graph).  Over 60% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction is effectively free -- a global "goal" climate solution for all buildings.  This same plan is also a massive Energy-Water-Nexus solution as 100% GHG savings also means 100% water savings from electric production, and 50% to 80% savings of water use by evaporative chillers.

MIT Transition GHG SummaryNZ is an economic 5-way Win: Owners Win by Eliminating Utility Costs, Communities Win with Clean Energy (CE) Jobs, we all Win by saving the Climate, investors Win with NZ facilitating AAA Climate Bonds, and we also win by conserving over 2.51B gal/day just from electric production savings!  Wealth then builds in communities instead of multi-national corporations, and our climate and the economy both recover!  At just one 3,300 ton college converted to NZ, about 10M gal/yr is being saved. 

The NZ Solution presented here is exactly as also presented in the "MIT Climate Mitigation Solutions" contest where the whole plan is presented in four (4) Phases plus seven (7) identified Research Items identified in areas where cost reduction or technical advancement will increase the rate of NZ Carbon adoption.  We don't have enough space here for the whole program, so please refer there for the complete plan.

NZ for all buildings is the least expensive part of essential Climate Action, and a step we must take Now.

The world needs a high profile Leader to spread this NZ Carbon Solution promptly around the world.  We believe MIT should use its unmatched Education and R&D abilities to become the Leading Authority and Educator for Post-Carbon energy systems.  MIT already has excellent Sustainability Leadership and expertise in all the requisite fields of study, and we have assembled a team of the top four (4) North American experts in NZ Buildings and Campuses to help MIT design and implement this NZ Energy system.

MIT should Act Now and become the Global NZ Climate Action Leader.

What actions do you propose?

Foreword by Co-Author Rick Clemenzi, MIT'81, Co-Founder Net Zero Foundation:

I am an MIT'81 Systems Engineer who accidentally landed back in the Renewable Energy (RE) industry and found something I am compelled to share.  In a nutshell, we have all the technology and money needed to completely solve well over half of our Climate Problems, but there is a severe lack of Technical Leadership.

We have assembled a group of experts who know how to eliminate all fossil fuel use for Buildings mostly for "free" -- i.e., the savings exceeds the costs, and the not yet "free" part soon will be.  Buildings use the largest amount of energy on the planet -- a big Climate opportunity.  These experts have already implemented multiple Net Zero Energy institutional and large retail sites, and have taken one college campus to Net Zero Carbon.

Net Zero Foundation's mission is to communicate this "free" Climate Solution to the world, but the task is large and urgent. 

A global Demonstration Site and High Profile Leader like MIT is needed!

As an alum, I know that MIT has both the brainpower and position to be the Global Leader the world needs.  The MIT Sustainability Group has the acumen and mission to lead this effort within MIT involving a dozen or so other departments, as long as the Administration and Board fully commit to the plan.

With Leadership, the Net Zero Movement can take off globally and solve much of our Climate Issues.

Please vote for our proposal so MIT will accept this Net Zero Challenge.  Together we can change the world!



The energy delivered by the Sun to the Earth in one hour is more than humanity uses in a year.  This vast solar energy supply allows us to create a new class of buildings/campuses that are called Net Zero Carbon (NZ).  MIT Transition GHG SummaryImplementing NZ is a Systems Engineering task combining Energy Efficiency (EE), Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHP), Thermal Storage, Photovoltaics (PV), Battery Storage, and other "Clean Energy" (CE) from the grid (Wind, etc.).  Some NZ Commercial Buildings already exist in the U.S.[24], and the pace of NZ construction/‌conversion is increasing. 

Several large companies, school systems, and the entire federal government[6] are committed to NZ construction and retrofits for all their large buildings within the next decade.  The exponentially growing "Climate Bond" field provides a virtually unlimited funding source for NZ.[7]

MIT should implement a NZ conversion, and provide Global Leadership and R&D where advancements are needed.  Funds currently directed to boiler and chiller system upgrades, neither of which will ever be NZ Carbon, should be redirected to NZ.

NZ EconomicsThe thermal energy system proposed here has been proven "effectively free" based on cost savings and available Climate Bond financing, thus removing MIT's need for Capital Improvement funds.  Failure by MIT to take this step now will unnecessarily lock the MIT campus into fossil fuel consumption for decades.

We further propose on-site PV and energy storage taking MIT to 100% GHG emissions free.  Our initial recommendation calls for a 25 year implementation period that is likely to be effectively free -- faster implementation is possible.

New Thinking Required - Novelty

Achieving full NZ/GHG elimination for buildings involves the following five (5) technology sets:

  1. Energy Efficiency (EE) (already underway),
  2. Highly efficient Advanced Thermal HVAC systems with Thermal Storage,
  3. On-site Clean Energy production - PV (photovoltaics), possibly PV + thermal,
  4. On-site electric storage via next generation battery systems (see research),
  5. Off-site Clean Energy generation (or purchase).


MIT's campus currently uses a CHP plant, a generation of equipment with efficiencies in the 65% to 100% percent range and completely dependent on a fossil fuel supply.  The Advanced Thermal solutions we bring are of a fundamentally different nature with System efficiencies generally 350%-450% (Coefficient of Performance (COP) = 3.5 - 4.5), usually including daily, weekly, and annual cycle thermal storage.  Advanced Thermal powered by PV or Wind has an infinite efficiency from a GHG perspective, and a distributed Micro District breaks prior "district heat" concepts requiring new thinking.

MIT District Balanced.PNGThe goal solution for HVAC centers around GHP - the proven, most efficient HVAC/thermal building energy system.  The next best HVAC system (VRF ASHP) is 44% less efficient, thus requires 79% more power to operate (1/(1-0.44)=1.79).[15]

Our solution goes much further by implementing a fully distributed, fully adaptive thermal system - the current cutting edge state of the art in this field termed "Adaptive Loop".  This system achieves maximum diversity efficiency, eliminates source and distribution thermal losses, recycles internal "waste" thermal energy (heat pumps produce waste heat when cooling and waste cool when heating), and can time shift that energy (via storage) to operate even more efficiently: COP = 4.0 to 6.0.  It is a technology "leapfrog" opportunity, skipping less efficient Steam-to-Hot Water upgrades many campuses/districts are planning that require massive campus disruption for new infrastructure piping and still has distribution losses.  GHP Adaptive Loop can be implemented utilizing existing piping infrastructure.


MIT should notice the writing on the wall:

  • Climate Change is clearly caused by GHG emissions
  • "13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015" (NOAA, April 2016)
  • The Divestment Movement displays a growing impatience for action
  • Once the world realizes NZ Carbon is partially available for "free", the pressure for NZ transformation will grow exponentially.

This plan easily meets the 32% GHG reduction goal and shows how to completely eliminate GHG emissions from MIT's campus operations by 2040 or sooner.  While we only propose implementing technologies as they reach the "effectively free" point with available financing, much faster full conversion is possible and must at least be planned for under the above circumstances.  Boldly targeting faster NZ implementation would solidify MIT as a Global Climate Leader.

MIT's CHP plant was cutting edge when it was installed, and is still the best solution for on-site electric plus heat generation when fossil fuel use is allowed.  However, a CHP plant is inherently fossil fuel based, and the day is coming when that use will no longer be tolerated for non-Industrial sites -- certainly not once PV/Wind is cheaper.  MIT and similar campuses should accept this fact and plan now for retirement of CHP plants no later than 2050.

The Cost

Funding for this plan will be from fossil fuel savings, already planned mechanical system expenditures, maintenance savings, grants from MA Clean Energy Center, plus Net Zero Bonds certified under the Climate Bonds Initiative [7] or the MIT Endowment once its managers realize this is the best investment MIT can make for the future.  These systems all have far lower LCC (Life Cycle Cost) -- savings generated will be indefinite and more secure than existing endowment investments.  The greater economic benefits of NZ conversion are significant and should be studied.

Plan Outline

The plan includes the following specific steps detailed below (Systems Installation Track):

Design: Site Analysis, Advanced Thermal System Modeling/Simulation/Design - Year 1

Phase 1: Advanced Thermal Systems Installation - Years 1 - 25

Phase 2: Advanced On-Campus PV Systems Installation - Years 2 - 26

Phase 3: Advanced Electric Battery Systems Installation - Years 10 - 35

Phase 4: Final Net Zero Carbon Conversion - Years 25 - 35

Our Research Recommendations include the following:

Net Zero Research:

Item 1: Net Zero Energy Economics - Continuous

Item 2: Full Net Zero Energy Conversion Modeling - Years 2+

Advanced Thermal Research:

Item 3: Drill Rig Silencing - Years 1 - 2

Item 4: Tuned Phase Change Energy Storage Pods - Years 1 - 5

Item 5: Thermal Systems Optimization Curriculum and Analysis - Years 3+

Advanced Electric Research/Analysis:

Item 6: Large Capacity Electric Battery R&D - Years 1 - 15

Item 7: Flat Tracking Solar PV Demonstration/Analysis - Years 2-4



We do not have sufficient space to fully teach cost-effective NZ, but we suggest the following list proves feasibility:

  • Members of our Expert Team have completed institutional and retail NZ buildings, including converting two college campus to NZ Carbon (one completed)
  • IKEA and Walgreens have already built NZ and NZ Ready (NZR) stores with corporate commitments to NZ Carbon (our team included)
  • US DOE has significant NZ/NZR Buildings efforts (see
  • U.S. government has committed to make all large buildings NZ [6]
  • There are now over 200 NZ Commercial Buildings in the U.S. [24]



The technologies proposed are proven, but improper/insufficient design is a real risk.  While PV is not yet "effectively free", PV is none-the-less becoming risk free.  But, central to this proposal is conversion of MIT campus HVAC systems to Advanced Thermal/GHP.  This is cutting edge Systems Engineering and requires experienced experts.  It is shocking that many engineers are willing to profess they "do geothermal" yet don't have the required experience or CGD (Certified GeoExchange Designer) training.  There are many improperly designed GHP systems that our team has had to fix.  The root of the CGD training is knowing how to model, simulate, and then design large commercial GHP systems to be both reliable and economical.  The distributed and adaptive campus/‌district system modeling/simulation requires expertise beyond any existing training.

We have assembled the following team of top North American (NAm) NZ experts for Design and Phases 1-2 to eliminate risk (very abbreviated bios):

  • Don Penn, PE, CGD, CGI - 49 state licensed professional engineer responsible for the largest Net Zero secondary school to date, GHP systems for school districts in four (4) states, consulted on GHP at Harvard, on the DOE Review Committee that approved largest district GHP project to date (Ball State);
  • Ed Lohrenz, B.E.S., CGD - GHP industry since 1982, wrote the CGD training course, large system 2nd and 3rd party review, and the go-to expert for GHP forensic analysis;
  • Cary Smith, CGD, CEM, CEA - 40 years experience in energy systems, distributed/‌district GHP specialist with numerous distributed systems including one 3500 ton university now effectively NZ and another in process;
  • Carl Orio, CGD - the premier GHP drilling expert in the Northeast U.S. whose team has designed and equipped over 14,000 geo systems, co-author “Modern Geothermal HVAC Engineering & Control Applications”;
  • Rick Clemenzi, PE, CGD, MIT'81 - product/systems engineer, GHP engineer/contractor, flat-tracking PV breakthrough inventor, co-founder Net Zero Foundation (501c3).


The only topic outside the expertise of these individuals is Systems Installation Phase 3 (Years 15 - 25) based on the results of Research Item 6: Large Capacity Electric Battery R&D (Years 1 - 15).  That field requires new expertise.

Systems Installation Track

Following are the 5 steps associated with full NZ conversion of MIT.  Only Design and Phase 1 are required to meet the near-term requested 32% GHG reduction.


Please accept our apologies, but we must ask that you read the balance of our proposal in "MIT Climate Mitigation Solutions" -- there is insufficient space here.

Who will take these actions?

It will take All of Us working together to transform to the Net Zero Energy world.  Homes must convert (GHP + PV), commercial buildings must convert (GHP + PV), industry must convert (Solar Thermal, PV, GHP, Wind), transportation must convert (EV + Batt), and the remaining electric grid must convert (Wind + PV + GEO).

Systems Installation Track

We expect the Office of Sustainability will be the lead for the systems installation effort.  We have assembled a team of top North American experts to assist MIT in the design and installation of the Net Zero Systems.  The breadth of experience in this team is critical for success of this effort.  The team of experts is identified in the Risk/Team section above.

Research Track

The Research Track is for MIT faculty and students to achieve.  It contains a very broad spectrum of technologies and complexities, including advanced research that will take years.  The full spectrum of departments involved in the cited research efforts will likely include ME (2), Materials (3), Architecture (4), Chemistry (5), EE (6), Economics (14), Management (15), Earth Sciences (12), Engineering Systems Division (ESD), Science/Technology/Society (STS), Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI), and MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

Net Zero Foundation

Net Zero Foundation was created to educate and spread the Net Zero Energy/Net Zero Carbon Understanding and Vision.  Want to get involved?  Join the Net Zero Foundation -- follow us on Twitter.  Let's Change the World!

Where will these actions be taken?

These Net Zero Carbon changes must occur Everywhere!  The conversion to Net Zero itself is not difficult -- we have already converted many schools (dozens) and businesses (IKEA, Walgreens, etc.) to Net Zero.  The trick is to do it everywhere ... all buildings, all homes.  Once we can get the word out that Net Zero Energy also means Building Wealth, this "everywhere" will start to happen.  And, we are talking real wealth -- both short term and long term -- and climate wealth as well.  A complete solution to all our problems, and we can all make money doing it.

How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?

The MIT Net Zero Conversion GHG Savings graph shows the projected carbon reduction percentages from this Net Zero Carbon proposal.  For MIT, we achieve 58.8% GHG savings with an Advanced Geothermal Heat Pump solution "effectively free", and 17% GHG reduction from an Advanced PV installation.  Thermal and electric energy storage and off-site purchased PV/Wind energy can take the campus to 100% Net Zero Carbon.

These savings are indicative of those available with every Net Zero Carbon building conversion.  PV + GHP + Wind = Ending the Energy-Water Problem!

What are other key benefits?

The Net Zero Foundation proposals show a specific plan for significant near-term energy and carbon reduction goals, and a mid-term path to 100% Net Zero Carbon.

Once Advanced Thermal/Clean Power systems are fully implemented in all U.S. buildings, DOE/EPA data shows about 2.5B metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year will be saved (about 37% of national GHG total, figure below) and NREL reported data suggests 2.51B gal/day of water can be saved from electricity production alone, plus water savings from GHP's reduced chiller use.

As mentioned in the Summary above, NZ is an economic 4-way Win with wealth building in communities instead of multi-national corporations!

What are the proposal’s costs?

A basic premise of our Net Zero Carbon proposal is that we only undertake steps when they become "effectively free".  The figure shows the approximate current Cost/Benefit value of many Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency technologies.  All of the technologies to the right of the "Effectively free" vertical green line save more energy than they cost to install and finance.  Unsurprisingly, Weatherstripping and Double Pane windows are at the far right of the graph being most affordable, and Nuclear is currently at the far left being generally not affordable.

In the middle we find PV (photovoltaics) and GHP (Geothermal Heat Pumps) which are at the center of this proposal.  At this point in time, GHP is being found to be "effectively free" in almost all circumstances -- certainly at MIT.  Thus, the GHP portion of this proposal has no cost component.

PV has not yet reached the "effective free" point, but it is very rapidly advancing in that direction.  It is our premise that PV too will be fully "effective free" by the time we propose installing it at MIT.  This includes some specific breakthroughs we identify herein which significantly increase PV output.

The only portions of this proposal that have real costs associated with them are the optional later stages.  We do not recommend installation of those phases until they too become nearly "effectively free".

Time line

The Net Zero Energy project contains 5 identified phases which in general fall into the following time periods (please see the main body for more detail):

Systems Installation Track:

Design: Site Analysis, Advanced Thermal System Modeling/Simulation/Design - Year 1

Phase 1: Advanced Thermal Systems Installation - Years 1 - 25

Phase 2: Advanced On-Campus PV Systems Installation - Years 2 - 26

Phase 3: Advanced Electric Battery Systems Installation - Years 10 - 35

Phase 4: Final Net Zero Carbon Conversion - Years 25 - 35


Research Track:

Net Zero Research:

Item 1: Net Zero Energy Economics - Continuous

Item 2: Full Net Zero Energy Conversion Modeling - Years 2+

Advanced Thermal Research:

Item 3: Drill Rig Silencing - Years 1 - 2

Item 4: Tuned Phase Change Energy Storage Pods - Years 1 - 5

Item 5: Thermal Systems Optimization Curriculum and Analysis - Years 3+

Advanced Electric Research/Analysis:

Item 6: Large Capacity Electric Battery R&D - Years 1 - 15

Item 7: Flat Tracking Solar PV Demonstration/Analysis - Years 2-4

Related proposals

This Net Zero Carbon proposal addresses both the MIT Climate Mitigation and Energy-Water Nexus competitions.  The proposals are exactly the same because Net Zero Carbon solves both sets of issues simultaneously.  A different Summary is given for each to highlight the connection and synergy.  Due to the short space available, the only complete proposal is under MIT Climate Mitigation Solutions, with a reduced version in Energy Water Nexus.

MIT Climate Mitigation Solutions:100% Net Zero Carbon Plan, 60% NZ Effectively Free, Expert Team Ready!

Energy Water Nexus:Net Zero Carbon Energy -- The 100% Energy-Water Nexus Solution

In a nutshell, this proposal eliminates all GHG from buildings, eliminates all water loss from electrical generation for buildings, and eliminates most if not all water loss from fluid chillers!


We cite the following major sources in addition to MIT's Plan and Update for Action on Climate Change:

[1] "A Plan for Action on Climate Change", MIT, October 21, 2015

[2] "Update on the Plan for Action on Climate Change", MIT, April 27, 2016


[4] "MIT Greenhouse Inventory Data - Basic Spreadsheet (2014-2015)", MIT Office of Sustainability

[5] "A Methodology for Assessing MIT's Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions", Tiffany Amber Groode, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 2004

[6] "Executive Order 13693 - Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade", President Obama, USA

[7] "Climate Bonds Taxonomy", Climate Bonds Initiative

[8] "Estimated U.S. Total Energy Consumption 2015", Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, March 2016, U.S. Department of Energy EIA (Energy Information Agency)

[9] "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks:1990–2013", EPA 430-R-15-004, April 15, 2015

[10] "Natural Gas Consumption (Btu) and Energy Intensities by End Use for All Buildings, 2003", EIA, Table E7A, September 2008

[11] Consumptive Water Use for U.S. Power Production, December 2003, NREL/TP-550-33905, P. Torcellini, N. Long, and R. Judkoff

[12] "Net-Zero Energy Buildings: A Classification System Based on Renewable Energy Supply Options", Shanti Pless and Paul Torcellini, Technical Report NREL/TP-550-44586, June 2010

[13] "Geothermal HVAC Case Study Success in K-12 Schools and Nation’s Largest Net Zero School", 2014 IGSHPA Annual Conference Baltimore, Don Penn, PE, CGD, Image Engineering Group, Ltd.

[14] "Lady Bird Johnson Middle School - Irving, TX", 2013 IGSHPA Annual Conference Las Vegas, Don Penn, PE, CGD, Image Engineering Group, Ltd.

[15] "Performance of the HVAC Systems at the ASHRAE Headquarters Building", L.E. Southard, P.E., Xiaobing Liu, Ph.D., and J.D. Spitler, Ph.D., P.E.

[16] "A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to geothermal systems", enacted January 5, 2016

[17] "Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment", National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-65298, January 2016

[18] "Germany Just Got Almost All of Its Power From Renewable Energy", Bloomberg, Jessica Shankleman, May 16, 2016

[19] Coming: 'MA Clean Energy Center Commercial Geothermal Rebate Program', MA CEC 2016

[20] "The Guide to Developing Solar Photovoltaics at Massachusetts Landfills", Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

[21] "Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Appendix F. Electricity Emission Factors", EIA

[22] "Campus Energy Independence", University of Wisconsin River Falls, 2008

[23] "What You Need to Know About the Paris Agreement", The Climate Reality Project

[24] "2014 Getting to Zero Status Update: A look at the projects, policies and programs driving zero net energy performance in commercial buildings", New Buildings Institute, 2014