Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has initiated an ambitious plan for the state: achieving net-zero energy in all new commercial, public, and residential buildings by 2030. In March 2009, the Massachusetts Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force, appointed by Patrick a year ago from a diverse group of experts, delivered a set of comprehensive recommendations to put the state on the net-zero path, thereby reducing energy costs, dependence on fossil fuels, and emissions, and creating green jobs.

"The governor has a holistic view on how to address a number of different issues: increasing energy costs, concerns about energy reliability and security, and environmental impact of the fuels and energy that we use," says David Cash, assistant secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. "Buildings are just one of the many different sectors we're addressing."

The net-zero energy initiative is considered crucial for the future of the state's businesses and homeowners, but "by an infinitesimally small sector," according to remodeler Paul Eldrenkamp of Newton, Mass.-based Byggmeister. Eldrenkamp served as the chair of the task force's Residential Sector Working Group. However, he points out that many of the task force's recommendations will need an executive order from the governor's office to be implemented, while some others already are in play due to several energy and environmental legislative initiatives the state passed in 2008.

"We have staff in our office who are looking very carefully at each of the recommendations to see how we can move forward in a way that makes the best sense for getting to zero net energy by 2030," Cash says.

Eldrenkamp knows the task force's report will not change Massachusetts or the world, but he believes the goals and recommendations it outlines are achievable. He expects a lot of resistance to the net-zero energy initiative from the marketplace. "The recommendations are extremely valid," Eldrenkamp says. "But I don't think the marketplace shares our sense of urgency in terms of how far and how fast we need to go with housing stock."

Read more about the Massachusetts Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force's report in COASTAL CONTRACTOR magazine.