The digital age is coming to a building near you.

Thanks to new technologies and business models, buildings no longer have to be passive consumers of energy, but can be active participants in the daily operations of the power grid, delivering significant cost and environmental savings. 

Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group has developed A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings. The Roadmap outlines DOE’s national goal to triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030, relative to 2020 levels. It also defines technology attributes, integration considerations, and barriers to achieving the full potential, adoption and deployment of GEB. DOE's Building Technologies Office (BTO) makes 14 recommendations to overcome those barriers in “action steps” that all key industry stakeholders can take–starting today–to expand the prevalence of grid-interactivity in buildings.

“Most of our buildings stand to benefit enormously from smart, connected technologies,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Grid-interactive efficient buildings are designed to avoid the high costs and disruptions associated with peak demand and grid stress. Through clean, on-site power generation and cutting-edge efficiency measures, we can massively reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings sector."

Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) can remake buildings into a clean and flexible energy resource. By combining smart technologies and distributed energy resources with energy efficient buildings, GEBs can provide comfort and convenience for building occupants, sell services to the power grid, and cut costs and pollution. All buildings, including federal buildings, can benefit from implementing GEB technologies. In fact, the U.S. General Services Administration recently published a complementary blueprint for practical guidance and tools to integrate GEB technologies into federal energy savings performance contracts and has committed to 100% renewable energy for all federal buildings by 2025.

The Roadmap finds that over the next two decades, GEBs could deliver between $100 and 200 billion in savings to the U.S. power system and cut CO2 emissions by 80 million tons per year by 2030, or 6% of total power sector CO2 emissions. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants, or 17 million cars.

A grid-interactive efficient building can offer a host of services that cut costs, eliminate waste, and improve grid operations. For example:

  • Efficient lighting and appliances plus a tight building envelope can cut electricity demand across the board.
  • Load shedding allows the building to cut demand during peak hours, or as requested by the grid manager.
  • Load shifting takes advantage of cheaper or cleaner power by shifting demand from one time of day to another when renewable energy is abundant on the grid.
  • Modulating load with batteries and other electronic devices allows the building to maintain grid frequency or control system voltage.
  • Generating power, like from rooftop solar, cuts bills, reduces losses on the grid, and reduces the need for more power plants.

For more information on the GEB Roadmap, join the GEB Roadmap Informational Webinar on May 27, 2021 at 12:00 PM ET. Hear from the authors of the report and BTO Director David Nemtzow.

Follow BTO’s Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings Initiative for blogs, events, and opportunities to further engage with BTO on this roadmap’s implementation, and subscribe to BTO’s newsfeed  for the latest releases and information on GEBs.