Salovich Zero+ Campus Design Project
Salovich Zero Plus Campus Design Project

What is Zero+ Design?


The Zero+ Campus Design Project in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota focuses on research, teaching, and engagement with the University community of students, staff, and administrators to combine broad goals of campus beauty and sustainability with integration of building and landscape design through a focus on the energy-water nexus.

Zero+ Concept

The Zero+ concept stems from net-zero (NSTC 2008; Hernandez & Kenny 2010) energy design, where a building or site annually generates enough resources (i.e. energy, water, clean air, et cetera) to operate without external resources or even has a net life cycle impact of zero.  Net-zero positive performance advances the broader concept of regenerative design (Lyle 1996) and the Living Building Challenge (ILBI 2010) to enable projects to produce more energy or resources than they consume, leading to net annual gains.  In Zero+ projects, building and landscape design integrate energy and hydrological performance in mutually-dependent systems across the scales of the built environment.  Zero+ design exceeds the target of carbon neutrality, which exclusively focuses on limited greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy production and high efficiency, while not mitigating other environmental impacts of the built environment.  

These positive environmental improvements can be quantified as generating greater ecosystem services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005; Gomez-Baggethun et al. 2010), through regulating and provisioning the environment.  While this chapter is primarily focused on pedagogy and working with improving the performance of college campuses, the methodology used is intended to be applicable in professional practice settings on a wide range of project (both buildings and landscapes) typologies too.


  • Hernandez, P. & Kenny, P., 2010. From net energy to zero energy buildings: Defining life cycle zero energy buildings (LC-ZEB). Energy and Buildings, 42(6), pp.815-821.
  • Lyle, J.T., 1996. Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development, John Wiley and Sons.

  • ILBI, 2010. Living Building Challenge 2.0: A visionary Path to a Restorative Future. Available at: [Accessed December 1, 2011].