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Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings

GEB Blueprint

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What is a Grid-Interactive Efficient Building (GEB)?

GEB = Energy Efficiency + Demand Flexibility

The U.S. electric power sector is changing in both challenging and exciting ways. Among the factors influencing this evolution are:

  • The growth of renewable energy sources, and the decentralization of power generation into more distributed energy resources;
  • Technological improvements in energy storage, communications, sensors and controls;
  • Clean energy and climate goals driving efficiency improvements as well as renewables adoption
  • Increasing need for resilience, from climate change, terrorism, etc.;
  • Changes in electric rate structures opening the door– and increasing the imperative – to find new ways for building owners and operators to save money.

All of these factors are driving interest in building and grid integration, a set of strategies, practices and technologies to dynamically shape energy loads, help agencies meet their missions, provide resilience and valuable services to the power grid while saving money for building owners and operators and the taxpayer.

Graphs showing load profiles for typical commercial building, energy efficient building, energy efficient with solar PV, and a GEB. GEB has a much more stable load profile.
Typical Daily Load Profiles by Building Type
Source: Rocky Mountain Institutenon government site opens in new window

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office created the concept of Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs)opens in new window, uniting the goals of building energy efficiency and building and grid integration into one suite of strategies.

Graphic shows four characteristics of GEBs:  Efficient, Connected, Smart, and Flexible
Characteristics of Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings
Adapted from: Department of Energy EERE GEB Overviewopens in new window and Department of Energy EERE GEBsopens in new window


  • Enable achievement of ambitious climate & resilience goals by bringing buildings & the grid together;
  • Draw from a toolbox that includes energy efficiency, renewables, energy storage and load flexibility;
  • Employ these capabilities to flexibly reduce, shed, shift, modulate or generate electric load as needed;
  • Respond to utility price signals to reduce costs and enhance resilience for both building and utility.

Table 1. The Value of GEBs

Attribute Today Future
1. Interoperability and intelligence from building to grid
  • Demand response (DR) programs, often manual, fairly static
  • Ability to receive and respond to utility price signals
  • Ability to send load flex potential
2. Interoperability and intelligence across building systems
  • Building management systems (BMS) for major loads (HVAC)
  • Individual system controls (Lighting, storage)
  • Single, overarching integrator to monitor and control all loads, including plug loads and storage
  • Ability to optimize for cost, carbon, reliability, etc.
3. Load flexibility and demand-focused optimization
  • Thermal energy storage
  • Battery storage
  • Intelligence to track and map demand, shift or shed rapidly based on inputs such as price, weather, carbon, events, etc.

What is GSA doing on GEBs?

Two members of GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings summarized initial progress on GEBs with a presentationopens in new window at a meeting of the Interagency Sustainability Working Group in December 2019.

The GSA Proving Ground, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Commercial Buildings Integration program, released a Request for Informationopens in new window in 2019 seeking technology providers to partner on GEB demonstration projects. In 2020, these two programs selected four Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB) technology solutions to be validated in both private sector and GSA facilities. More information on these planned technology assessments is available hereopens in new window.

U.S. General Services Administration Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings Infographic.

Benefits and Challenges to GEB in Federal Buildings

GEB Case Studies

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Barriers to overcome, per the Advisory Committee:

  • Provide Information & Resources: Case studies, design guidance, modeling tools
  • Establish GEB Policies: Create load reduction goals
  • Improve Price Incentives & Financing Models:
    • ID where Utility, Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), and/or Independent Sysetm Operator (ISO) rates & incentives make GEB options attractive
    • Integrate into ESPC/UESC frameworks
  • Overcome Operational Knowledge Gaps & Security Concerns:
    • Need smart controls, advanced metering, cybersecurity protections
    • Revise operator procedures & training
Direct Benefits to GSA
Grid and Societal Value
Indirect Value to GSA
  • $50 MM in annual cost savings
  • $206 MM in net present value (NPV)
  • Project-level payback under 4 years
  • Futureproof: Accommodates future rate structure changes and helps manage costs
  • Reduce grid-level transmission and distribution (T&D) and generation costs up to $70 MM/yr
  • These savings ultimately benefit the government and taxpayers
  • Future grid economic models will value savings (e.g., non-wires alternatives)
  • Demonstrates federal and real estate industry leadership
  • Enables deeper savings in Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Service Contracts (UESCs)
  • Better building control can improve comfort, health, and productivity
  • CO2 savings
Assumes GEBs are applied across the GSA portfolio of owned office buildings; Based on bundle of measures modeled by RMI.

Additional Information

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Related Topics

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a comparison of the amount of energy used compared to the amount of output produced. In the built environment, this means using the least amount of energy (electricity, natural gas, etc.) to operate a facility appropriately. Steps that can help a building run efficiently include: ensuring there are no air leaks, using sensors or timers to ensure the building isn’t operating when vacant, and using energy-efficient equipment.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from sources that are either inexhaustible or can be replaced very rapidly through natural processes. Examples include the sun, wind, geothermal energy, small (river-turbine) hydropower, and other hydrokinetic energy (waves and tides). Using renewable energy reduces a building's carbon footprint. There are various options for providing renewable energy to buildings, the most common being solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Buildings can also purchase renewable energy from offsite sources.

EPA | Renewable Energyopens in new window

DOE | Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energyopens in new window


The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

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