A Public Building That Can Decarbonize Santa Rosa’s Electric Grid

Published by Next City: Two years ago, the energy company Sonoma Clean Power set out to renovate a 1979 structure in Santa Rosa, California, for its new headquarters. The building had long been powered by natural gas. The vision for the final product was radically different — a test case to accelerate the decarbonization of the electrical power grid, an urgent imperative as the climate crisis worsens.

The strategy to enable that transition is the result of a partnership between the New Buildings Institute and U.S. Green Building Council, which spent several years developing the GridOptimal Buildings Initiative. The collaboration develops strategies to better integrate buildings into sustainable utility grid management, away from our dependence on fossil fuels, with the emphasis that buildings play a crucial role. Sonoma Clean Power’s Santa Rosa headquarters is the first completed pilot, with the hope of inspiring replicates.

We’re in transition between the centralized, fossil-powered grid of the past and the possibility of a mostly renewable, low-carbon grid, according to Alexi Miller, acting director of building innovation at New Buildings Institute. The need to transition is only growing as record heat waves have strained the grid across California and elsewhere.

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