The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) latest version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program will incorporate demand response (DR) into their rating system for the first time.
LEED is a nationally-recognized authority and is widely regarded as the standard for determining energy efficiency for commercial and residential buildings throughout the U.S. The LEED system is based on points that can be acquired through various initiatives like building with environmentally-friendly materials, installing water-efficiency measures, and using renewable energy for electric consumption, to name a few.
Demand response has been widely considered as a worthy energy efficiency component for years. Tens of thousands of facilities across the U.S. participate in DR to temporarily reduce electrical load when the electric grid is stressed. Demand response providers call upon end users to power down equipment and reducing various heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and cooling (HVAC) systems. In turn, providers pay participants based mainly on the amount of electricity they were able to reduce. For many customers, implementing a Building Automation System (BAS) to connect these systems on a single platform is often simpler than a manual shutdown.
Although demand response pilot programs for LEED certification have been around since 2011,LEEDv4 is the first update to officially incorporate DR as a base credit. But unlike the pilot programs, the official standards in LEED v4 are considerably tighter. In earlier trials, a demand response participant could either be partially-, or fully-automated to receive LEED credit – so long as they reduced ten percent of their electrical load.
While they still require the ten percent load drop, LEED standards are now requiring the ability to be fully-automated, as Brendan Owens, Vice President of LEED Technical Development, explained to Greentech Media. “The new credit requires that the demand response system must be capable of being fully automated, but can be operated in a semi-automated way.”
In addition, LEEDv4 requires demand response to be included in the commissioning scope of a building project. In other words, to receive LEED credit once a building project is completed, managers must include DR in their plans before its assembly. That way they can use the essential amount of time, space, and effort to properly plan out a DR strategy.
Former USGBC Chairman Mark MacCracken sees potential in the new ruling, telling Greentech Media, “[p]lanning for demand response during commissioning could possibly mean adding energy storage along with systems that can responds to automated demand response signals.” He added, “[t]he new demand response credit addresses peak electrical load reductions with two methods, namely, temporary and permanent. Permanent methods, like thermal energy storage, make these demand reductions invisible to the occupants by shifting electrical usages permanently to off-peak hours.”
In terms of either permanent, or temporary demand response, the end result is a lower electrical draw when the grid is strained. That greatly reduces the likelihood of brownouts, blackouts, and voltage fluctuations which can cost companies millions of dollars in labor and equipment, among other issues.
Demand response programs can help high energy-consuming businesses lower their monthly costs by reducing energy during times of peak demand. Learn how Energy Curtailment Specialists can assist by clicking here or here.