For 40 years, Charles Eley, FAIA, PE, has devoted his career to building energy efficiency and sustainability. He is a sought-after speaker and leader in the field.

Current Positions

Senior Fellow, Architecture 2030
Senior Fellow, New Buildings Institute (
Advisory Board Member, Collaborative for High Performance Schools (
Board Member, Benefit Corporation Standards Institute 
Vice-Chair, ASHRAE/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1 Committee (Green Building Standard)
Chair, Standard 189.1 Working Group 7.5 on building energy performance
Member, ASHRAE Building EQ Energy Rating Committee
Member, Seminar Committee, Golden Gate Chapter ASHRAE (


Lifetime Achievement Award, AIA California, 2021
Fellow of American Institute of Architects, 1992
Senior Fellow, Architecture 2030, 2017
Fellow, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers, 2018
Senior Fellow, New Buildings Institute, 2014
ASHRAE Best Poster Award for zEPI (Zero Energy Performance Index), 2012
IBPSA-USA Practitioner Award, 2010
Green Apple Award from Healthy Schools Network, 2009
Leadership award from Green Schools Summit, Pasadena, 2009
Association of Energy Engineers, San Francisco Chapter, Efficient Design Leader of the Year, 2001
California Passive Solar Design Award, 1979

Work Experience

Independent Consultant, 2010 to present
Architectural Energy Corporation, Senior Vice-President, 2004 to 2010
Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), Executive Director, 2002 to 2009
Eley Associates, Founder and Principal, 1978 to 2004 (merged with AEC in 2004)


Registered Architect, California
Professional Mechanical Engineer, California
Certified Energy Modeler, ASHRAE BEMP


Master of City Planning, U. C. Berkeley, 1973
Bachelor of Architecture, University of Tennessee, 1969

Selected Publications and Manuals

ZERO Code, See   
Design Professionals Guide to Zero Net Energy Building, Island Press, 2016
COMNET Modeling Rules and Procedures Manual, 2016, Author and Technical Editor
Safe and Healthy School Environments, Oxford University Press, 2006, Contributed two chapters
CHPS Best Practices Manual, six volume set, 2002 and 2006, Author and Technical Editor
ASHRAE 90.1 User’s Manual, 1989, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010 versions, Author and Technical Editor
ASHRAE 62.1 User's Manual. 2004 and 2007, Author and Technical Editor
Advanced Lighting Guidelines, 1991 (CEC version), 1993 (EPRI version), 2001 (NBI version), Author and Technical Editor
EPRI Lighting Fundamentals Handbook, 1992, Author and Technical Editor
EPRI Lighting Retrofit Handbook, 1997, Author and Technical Editor
EPRI Water Loop Heat Pump Design Guide, Author and Technical Editor
CEC ACM Residential Approval Manual, 1992, 2001, 2005, and 2008, Author and Technical Editor
CEC ACM nonresidential Approval Manual, 1992, 2001, 2005, and 2008, Author and Technical Editor

See also the Resources section of this website

Selected Committees and Positions

American Institute of Architects

California Council, Board Member and Treasurer
San Francisco Chapter, Board Member, Treasurer and President
National Committee on the Environment (COTE), Member

U. S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC )

Energy and Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Member and Co-Chair
LEED for Schools Development Committee, Member
LEED Commercial Interiors Development Committee, Member
LEED 3.0 Advisory Committee

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Zero Net Energy Advanced Energy Design Guide for Schools, Member
Standard 90.1 Committee, Member and Subcommittee Chair
Building Energy Modeling Program (BEMP) certification examination committee, member
Standard 189.1 Committee, Vice-Chair
Member Building EQ Asset Rating Committee

Miscellaneous Appointments

California Public Utilities Commission, Zero Net Energy Task Force
City of San Francisco, Mayors Renewable Energy Task Force
Board Member, Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)

Selected Professional Achievements

Primary author of Architecture 2030's ZERO Code, along with technical support documents (see 

Led the consultant team for updates to the California building energy efficiency standards in 1988, 1992, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011.

Developed the Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI), which made its way into the International Green Construction Code and other programs. 

Selected Software (role included design, specification, and some of the programming)

  • VisualDOE, a graphic user interfaces to the DOE-2 calculation engine
  • EnvStd, the building envelop trade-off procedure for ASHRAE Standard 90.1
  • CodeComp, a building envelop tradeoff procedure for the Oregon energy efficiency standards

Pioneered new building performance contracting for City of Oakland Administration Building, Alameda County Administration Building, Four Times Square and North Clackamas High School

Developed energy codes for Hawaii, India, Australia, Hong Kong, Guam, American Samoa, and Russia

Developed the California Home Energy Rating System, Phase II regulations as a contractor to the CEC.  

Served as energy consultant for a number of landmark green buildings

Professional Associations



After an initial stint as a mainstream architect, city planner and urban designer in the early 1970’s, Mr. Eley refocused his career on energy efficiency, bringing together his training in engineering, architecture and urban planning. He designed a number of influential passive solar homes in the Davis/Sacramento area and worked on energy efficiency and solar access ordinances for several California communities.

In 1978, he was selected by the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) to be its energy consultant. In this capacity, he represented architects at the California Energy Commission and the state legislature. He worked with California state legislators to introduce and pass three bills that, even today, have a lasting impact, as they require that the state always implement a performance path to compliance. He served on a number of important advisory committees at both the state and national level, including assignments with the AIA Research Corporation and U. S. HUD on the federal building energy performance standards (BEPS)

In 1985, he worked with Pacific Gas & Electric Company to develop the first whole building financial incentive program for new construction, based on exceeding minimum code. The program was launched in 1986 and has since served as a model for public investment in new building energy efficiency.

Mr. Eley has been a consultant and advisor the California Energy Commission in the area of energy efficiency standards since the mid-1980s. He was the prime contractor to the CEC for its code updates in 1988, 1992, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2011. He wrote the first specification for compliance software which increased reliability and confidence in energy performance predictions.

As California codes became a model for others, Mr. Eley consulted with the countries of Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and India. In 1990, Mr. Eley developed a model tropical code for Hawaii that encouraged open natural ventilated buildings and was otherwise tailored to the unique Hawaii climate and conditions. Mr. Eley later extended these principles to the U. S. territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and CNMI.

Following the 1989 earthquake in the bay area, Mr. Eley worked with the City of Oakland to develop the first new buildings performance contract which rewarded the design/build team for exceptional energy performance and provided a penalty for inefficiency. This work was extended to four other landmark buildings, through a partnership with Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Mr. Eley developed the first easy-to-use graphic user interface for complex building energy simulations. VisualDOE was introduced in the early 1990’s and went through five major updates and releases. It is still being used today by a number of loyal customers.

As its first executive director, Mr. Eley helped launch the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, a non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency and sustainable schools, not just in California, but throughout the country. This organization sets the standard for high performance K-12 schools. Visit for more information

Mr. Eley has developed the zero energy performance index (zEPI), a stable scale for measuring energy performance in both new and existing buildings. The scale has been added to the IgCC (International Green Construction Code) and is endorsed by Architecture 2030, the American Institute of Architects, the New Buildings Institute and others.

He is the primary author of the COMNET energy modeling guidelines, which aims to standardize the procedures for calculating building energy performance for use with green building ratings, tax deductions and other beyond-code programs. Visit for more information.

Mr. Eley is a Senior Fellow with Architecture 2030 and the author of the ZERO Code. The national and international version builds on the energy efficiency requirements of the latest energy efficiency standards and requires that new commercial, institutional and mid- to high-rise residential buildings install renewable energy systems to achieve zero net energy. Mr. Eley continues to support and develop the ZERO Code as it is adopted by progressive jurisdictions.