power grid renewable energy

Initiative Helps Create Good Grid Citizens for Changing Utility Industry

  March 18, 2019

By Greg Zimmerman

The cost of renewable energy and energy storage systems continues to decline, and more facilities are deploying these technologies to save energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and work toward climate-mitigation goals. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that as more renewable and storage systems interface with the grid, the results could be fluctuations and instability in the way power is delivered to energy users.

To ensure standards and metrics regarding grid citizenship – the way buildings and other energy users connect to and interface with the grid – the New Buildings Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council have launched the GridOptimal Buildings Initiative.

“The initiative aims to provide standards, tools, and guidance to improve building-grid interactions in the built environment by empowering owners, architects, and engineers with dedicated metrics, strategies, and pilot projects,” according to the New Buildings Institute. The goal is to help raise industry awareness and ensure buildings are good grid citizens, meaning they “contributes to, rather than detracts from, the reliable, safe, and affordable operation of the grid.”

In areas of the country with a large amount of renewable energy generation, utilities are being forced to discount power or curtail renewable generation at peak periods. That’s counterproductive to the ultimate goal of renewable energy: decarbonization.

For building owners and facility managers, good grid citizenship offers four opportunities, all of which lead to cost savings:

  • Permanent efficiency – building features and strategies that reduce total building loads
  • Peak shifting – passive or operational features that modify the time of peak building energy use to adapt to long-term grid supply characteristics
  • Dynamic response – building features that can reduce building energy use to address short-term grid constraints based on price signals
  • Dispatchable energy storage – Actively managed building features and energy-use patterns based on direct grid signals.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.


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