Perspectives on Net Zero From Eau Claire Wisconsin

In order to help meet the Paris Agreement, the City of Eau Claire Wisconsin adopted carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy goals in 2018. These 2050 goals cover the city and municipality. While climate change is a pressing risk that affects livelihoods, property and infrastructure, it is also a great opportunity. Greater investments in clean energy, for example, are transforming the marketplace and reducing air and water pollution. 

In support of the City of Eau Claire’s approved Sustainability Plan and renewable energy goals, the City has engaged paleBLUEdot to produce a Net Zero Energy building guide. Net Zero Energy is defined as:

A Net Zero Energy (NZE) building produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

The intent of the guide is to help residential and commercial building owners learn more about how they might achieve Net Zero Energy for their buildings.

Community Survey
Understanding the perspectives of community members and broad community input is key to any successful community planning effort. With that in mind, the City of Eau Claire issued this community survey to collect input from a broad range of community members. The intent of the survey was to help the city collect information on knowledge, opinions, and perspectives on Net Zero Energy building potential within the community.

Of the respondents who took the survey, over 78% reported having a good (50%) or strong (28.1%) understanding of the term “Net Zero Energy”. Respondents noted that the most important benefits of Net Zero Energy buildings in Eau Claire would be reducing/eliminating greenhouse gas emissions (96.7%), having higher performing buildings in the community (83.3%) and helping to meet the City’s renewable energy goals (73.3%). Respondents also recommended prioritizing a focus on net zero energy buildings on new commercial, followed closely by new residential, then commercial renovation, followed by residential renovation projects.

Survey respondents commented on the economic development potential of Net Zero Energy buildings for the City of Eau Claire. The majority of respondents rated energy cost savings for residents and businesses as important. Surprisingly, however, even more respondents ranked very highly the importance of new job creation and job training opportunities available through advancing Net Zero Energy adoption throughout the City.

Respondents showed a significant willingness to pay to achieve net zero for their own homes and businesses. Three quarters of respondents indicated a willingness to pay 6% (19.4%) or 8% (54.8%) over base project costs in order to achieve Net Zero Enregy.

This survey was designed as an on-line questionnaire survey with random self-selected engagement.

The survey was designed by paleBLUEdot and reviewed for edit by City of Eau Claire planning staff. The survey was made available on-line on a dedicated webpage ( The survey was distributed through a number of approaches including:

  • Email notices

  • Home Builder’s Association Newsletter

  • City of Eau Claire website and Social Media posts

  • paleBLUEdot webiste