The GridOptimal Initiative

Paper / June 21, 2018 / Building Innovation

The role of buildings, renewable energy and storage in the utility industry is changing and near-term solutions are needed to address today’s challenges and capitalize on opportunities for market transformation. New Buildings Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council are launching a multi-year comprehensive grid edge initiative that will refine and disseminate a new building rating system called GridOptimal.

Rendering from the Pylon Design Competition by AL_A and Arup

By creating a standardized metric that defines a building’s contribution to the relevant utility grid scale—the building’s operational performance as a grid asset—many doors open. Utilities may incentivize grid-sensitive design. Government agencies may include the metric in their procurement requirements or in their climate policies. Designers and building owners can consider these impacts in a project in a sensible, straightforward approach. As we develop a way to define building-grid interaction quality, the market can respond by developing solutions for many of the issues facing the utility grid today and tomorrow. Future building codes can begin to encourage the adoption of these solutions and help ensure that the buildings coming online are acting as good grid citizens.

We are currently assembling a team of utilities and other partners who can advise and support this ground-breaking project.

Below are links to materials and background on the effort:

GridOptimal Factsheet

GridOptimal Intro Presentation

On-demand recording of January 9, 2018 Webinar

Presentation slides from January 9, 2018 Webinar

The Problem
Building-scale technologies are one critical component of the transformation of the power grid. However, at the building level there is a real lack of knowledge and incentive to encourage grid-friendly design and operation, even though buildings built today may interact with the grid for a century or more. It is illuminating to consider the impacts of individual buildings on the grid through the lens of a building’s “grid citizenship.” A good grid citizen is a building that contributes to, rather than detracts from, the reliable, safe, and affordable operation of the grid.

The role of buildings, renewable energy and storage in the utility industry is changing and near-term solutions are needed to address today’s challenges and capitalize on opportunities for market transformation.  Across North America there are no metrics, quantitative or qualitative, that define building-level grid citizenship or rate building-grid interaction quality. Current thinking on the topic is fragmented and different players are using different language to discuss the topic from a variety of perspectives.

The Solution
There is a need and opportunity for respected national leaders on high-performance buildings such as NBI and the USGBC to provide objective clarity and consistency in a collaborative, inclusive process with the goal of creating standards and tools to meet these challenges. GridOptimal™ is a building rating system that aligns the needs of utilities, regulators and buildings to transform inflexible, unresponsive buildings into smart, dynamic grid citizens.

The aim of this initiative is to provide standards, tools, and guidance to improve building-grid interactions in the built environment by empowering owners, architects, and engineers with a dedicated building rating system to help them achieve specific objectives. The initiative will build on NBI’s proven leadership on this issue, and on USGBC’s Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) power system rating project and the market reach of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, to develop and deploy a comprehensive rating system and certification protocol.

The proposed rating system would play a major role in bridging the gap in knowledge, understanding, and priorities between the two sides of the grid: operators and consumers. GridOptimal supports least-cost decarbonization of the grid through better integration of building-scale DERs.

Learn More
Alexi Miller, PE, LEED-AP+
Senior Project Manager, NBI
[email protected]