Scaling up Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings through PEER and LEED

Katherine Hammack
June 24, 2021

When a building is operational, it has a choice of where to obtain power. The power can be site generated, obtained from on-site energy storage or obtained from the power grid. In order to advance reductions in carbon, the building needs to have two-way communication with the power grid so that it can understand and respond to the carbon impact of the electricity offered by the power grid. The amount of carbon in a central power grid changes on a minute by minute basis, as does the cost to provide that energy.

According to NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs) are defined as energy-efficient buildings that use smart technologies and on-site DERs (Distributed Energy Resources) to provide demand flexibility while co-optimizing for energy cost, grid services and occupant needs and preferences in a continuous and integrated way.

With more and more on-site renewables and energy storage technologies coming into play there are more options. Energy efficiency, demand flexibility and demand response are options for the building's power system to interact with and respond to the power grid. Achieving energy efficiency and demand flexibility can provide a greater advantage for a building that is smart, connected, reliable and sustainable.

The recent report by The U.S. Department of Energy “a national roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings” identifies the opportunities and barriers to the adoption and deployment of GEBs.

GBCI supports scaling up GEBs through our LEED and PEER rating systems. LEED’s credits such as Grid Harmonization and Renewable Energy (On-site generation) effectively communicate the value proposition that buildings and utility grids can achieve in terms of reduced GHG emission and increased cost savings.

This has been further accelerated through PEER, which evaluates the performance of power systems and helps in better integration of buildings and utility grids making them smart, reliable and resilient. The PEER program promotes technology integration with SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition), enhanced communication networks, Building Automation Systems, Distributed Energy Resources, Demand-side Management and Demand Response to help in achieving GEBs goal. On-site distributed energy resources like Solar, and Storage, and even CHP (Combined heat and power), help buildings to partially disconnect their loads or use peak optimization techniques offering load flexibility for utilities and cost savings for buildings. All such efforts will not only reduce emissions and dependency on the grid but also significantly contribute to decarbonization. PEER even offers an innovation credit for Grid-Responsive or Grid-Interactive buildings.

With local policy measures, market instruments and financial incentives, GEBs will continue to advance supporting a decarbonized future.