What building professionals (and cities) need to know about our energy future

Thu, 2018-08-09 16:15 -- Doug Peeples

The energy landscape is changing quickly and many of us outside the energy industry don't really have a handle on the opportunities and challenges those changes represent. A new publication from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) was written for building professionals, but will be equally useful for city decision makers to help them get a practical understanding of what our energy future will look like. It also serves as a reminder that there are several important reasons why cities and electric utilities should be working together closely to ensure that our energy future is resilient and sustainable.

And there's an excellent opportunity coming up very soon for cities and utilities to begin solidifying their partnerships: attend the City/Electric Company Summit Meeting. The Electric Companies Advancing Smart Cities Task Force, a joint initiative of the Edison Electric Institute and the Smart Cities Council, is holding the second of three summits on Thursday, August 16 in Houston, TX. There's still time to register for the event which will include facilitated discussions with cities, electric companies and technology providers on a variety of topics, including expanded collaboration with electric companies on smart city projects. — Doug Peeples

 ASHRAE refers to its new publication, Building Our New Energy Future, as a primer. However, its 23 pages cover a lot of ground.

As ASHRAE President Sheila Hayter explained, "This primer was developed by a team of experts across industries to provide a common language understanding of key topics that will affect our energy future. Our new energy future has many exciting opportunities and challenges and this document provides guidance to help building professionals not only become more aware of the steps needed to move our energy future forward, but also shows them how they can become involved to ensure our new energy future serves all humanity and promotes a sustainable world."

Topics include distributed energy resources (DERs), IoT, smart grids and buildings, electric vehicles and buildings, high-performance building design, building automation and the future of utilities. It also extensively addresses energy load prioritization, energy storage, renewables and more.

Resources and advice
The publication also provides resources on a number of additional topics, such as how grid infrastructure is changing, utility business models and building load management and advice on integrating smart grid technologies into building design and construction. It also includes examples of renewable energy projects that incorporate storage, rooftop solar, solar integration and solar plus storage microgrids.

"It is vital that decision makers understand how the nation's electrical grid works when they are taking steps to reduce energy usage — whether it's at the building level or community level," said National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) President Henry Green. "Building Our New Energy Future clearly explains this complicated topic so people recognize the impacts their energy choices have on the power grid, occupant comfort level and their bottom line."

NIBS, the American Institute of Architects and the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Council advisor, collaborated with ASHRAE on the publication. Click the link to download a copy: https://www.ashrae.org/File%20Library/About/Leadership/new_energy_future_web_061518.pdf.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.