Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings
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.
Source: Rocky Mountain Institute
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office created the concept of Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs), uniting the goals of building energy efficiency and building and grid integration into one suite of strategies.
Adapted from: Department of Energy EERE GEB Overview and Department of Energy EERE GEBs
- 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
|1. Interoperability and intelligence from building to grid||
|2. Interoperability and intelligence across building systems||
|3. Load flexibility and demand-focused optimization||
What is GSA doing on GEBs?
Two members of GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings summarized initial progress on GEBs with a presentation 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 Information 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 here.
Benefits and Challenges to GEB in Federal Buildings
GEB Case Studies
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
- Advice Letter and Report: Recommendations for Adoption of Grid-Integrated Building Policy Provisions - Initial findings and recommendations on why the federal government should launch building and grid integration policies and practices.
- Advice Letter: Federal Building & Grid Integration: Proposed Roadmap – More detailed and targeted recommendations for how the federal government should make this transition.
- GSA responded by funding the Rocky Mountain Institute in 2019 to produce a feasibility study of GEB implementation at six GSA locations, Value Potential for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings in the GSA Portfolio: A Cost-Benefit Analysis.
- The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office provides a growing collection of technical reports and other resources on GEBs.
- Grid Optimal: a partnership between the New Buildings Institute and U.S. Green Building Council 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.
- Grid-Interactive Efficient Building Utility Programs: State of the Market: An ACEEE White Paper: (October 2019) - Research by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
- National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO): Website includes several studies and resources for state agencies to investigate and initiate GEB programs.
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 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.
The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.