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The Focus on Sustainable Electricity Through PEER
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that buildings account for 72 percent of electricity consumption in the United States. This high number is one of the principle reasons why the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has always made energy efficient design one of its key institutional priorities. In 2010, a LEED pilot credit was introduced to increase participation in demand response technologies and programs in an effort to make energy generation and distribution systems more efficient, increase grid reliability, and reduce environmental impacts alongside greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Based on the uptake of this pilot credit and positive feedback from users, demand response became a full credit in the LEED v4 rating system.
Through the demand response credit, USGBC has emphasized increasing awareness within the building industry of the interconnection between energy-use decisions and the demands placed on outside power generation and external grid capacity. In an effort to build upon this work, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) has acquired a new rating system, Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER), to help transform the way power systems are designed and operated.
PEER is modeled after LEED. It has been designed to help fill a major gap in the smart grid movement by providing a rating system with clear and concise criteria for assessing system performance. Just as USGBC is attempting to push green buildings in a more performance-oriented direction through innovative technologies such as the LEED Dynamic Plaque, PEER emphasizes the verification of significant measurable outcomes as part of its holistic approach toward transforming our current power industry model. PEER integrates the principles of quality, innovation, and excellence by shifting the power industry’s focus toward a business model that is more responsive to consumer needs and more sustainable for the planet.
PEER builds upon USGBC’s vision of an electricity grid that operates dynamically, reliably, and efficiently by conceptualizing a power system that uses real-time feedback from building owners to create a leaner, more efficient, and more responsive energy grid. The interconnectedness of the electricity systems that PEER is working to popularize will be established through forging cross-sector, outcome-driven collaboration while simultaneously leveraging emerging technologies, policies, and consumer understanding.
This year is shaping up to be a major year for the sustainability movement, and USGBC is excited by the surge of momentum around the world that is building on the idea that we need a 21st century infrastructure that is clean, healthy, resilient, and secure. Just as the green building movement has brought sustainability values to the mainstream of the building and construction industry, USGBC believes that PEER will succeed in transforming our collective thinking on how power ought to be generated, distributed, and used.
Kunal Gulati is a product marketing specialist for the U.S. Green Building Council.