I spent a half week with some of the most amazing thought leaders in the electricity space at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s eLabs 2018 accelerator. In my group, we discussed our solution towards a Grid Optimal initiative to get buildings to be better grid actors, designed to consider their electric load shape, how they use electricity, and ways to build in flexibility and grid stewardship. The definition and framework from our workshop will be coming forward as the research team dives in, though in the meantime, I wanted to just prime the conversation for building designers.

There are many building technologies used today which have a grid-friendly element and can give designers tools to think about beyond smart electric batteries and fancy building control systems which are the two most common distributed energy resources (DERs). These are my top unlikely technologies buildings themselves could use to start acting optimally:

  1. Radiant Cooling In-Slab
  2. Dedicated Outside Air Systems
  3. Phase Change Material
  4. Interior Automated Blinds
  5. Exterior Automated Blinds
  6. Tuneable Glazing
  7. Ceiling Fans
  8. Thermal Storage (Ice or 50k gallons)

More to come on this topic as we dive in. Buildings can be both static and dynamic players on the energy grid.