A little sharing leads to big savings for smart buildings

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Smart buildings can be grid partners with utilities by shaving peak loads and increasing resiliency of the grid.

At peak times when utilities face heavy energy loads, smart buildings can shave demand on the grid. Thanks to electronic control systems, sensors, communications and on-site energy storage, buildings can charge their batteries when power is cheap and draw on their stored power during peak hours. Some utilities also give their customers reduced rates if they allow the utility to make momentary, unobtrusive adjustments in electricity loads during peak hours.

Automated demand response agreements enable utilities to remotely switch off their customers’ less critical systems for short periods of time during heavy demand on the grid — for example, turning off power to a hot water heater for five minutes. These minor changes are not noticeable to the client. Multiplying these few minutes by hundreds or thousands of households, or many dozens of large commercial buildings, considerably reduces the load on the grid during peak periods of electricity use.

Interconnected smart buildings can also increase the resiliency of the grid. As on-site renewable energy sources such as solar panels become more affordable, smart buildings play a growing role in terms of energy reliability and resilience. Interconnected buildings that have renewable power generation and smart building functionality can provide a microgrid of on-site generation, which offers resilience against power cuts. This is a highly effective strategy for campus operations. As utilities recognize the service that smart buildings can provide, many are helping smart building owners tailor their building operations to adjustable rates, thereby shaving energy costs.


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Simone Skopek is an Operations Manager in Energy Sustainability Services at JLL. Simone has been pioneering programs at the firm that address sustainability and productivity in the workplace, as well as building resiliency and emergency management. She was one of the original creators of the Green Globes certification program and BOMA Best. Past careers include Critical Infrastructure Analyst with the government of Canada’s Public Safety department. She was also a high school physics, chemistry and biology teacher, and sailed around the world for seven years in a 30-foot sailboat.

 

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