The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $61 million in funding for 10 pilot projects that will deploy new technology to transform thousands of homes and workplaces into energy-efficient buildings.
The DOE said that these connected communities can interact with the electrical grid to optimize their energy consumption which will substantially decrease their carbon emissions and cut energy costs. The government agency noted that this project will help achieve the Biden administration’s goal of reaching a net-zero carbon economy by providing a model for reducing the building sector’s contribution to the climate crisis.
“From our homes to workplaces, this groundbreaking, grid-connected building technology will help reduce our impact while cutting energy bills, maximizing convenience, and propelling our efforts to reach a carbon-neutral, clean energy economy by 2050,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These projects will help universalize technology that can maximize the efficiency and sustainability of America’s nearly 130 million buildings and make significant headway in the fight against climate change.”
Connected communities of grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) use smart controls, sensors, and analytics to communicate with the electrical grid, reducing the amount of energy they require during periods of peak demand. This capability is used to optimize buildings and distributed energy resources to maintain the comfort of the building occupants, lowers utility bills, and reduces grid system costs, the DOE said.
A recent DOE study estimated that by 2030, GEBs could save up to $18 billion per year in power system costs and cut 80 million tons of carbon emissions each year. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants or 17 million cars. DOE’s first two connected communities in Alabama and Georgia have already demonstrated this potential by using approximately 42-44% less energy than today’s average all-electric home.
The 10 projects selected by the DOE will further demonstrate the capabilities of GEBs across a wider range of technologies, locations, and building types. The teams selected to manage these projects represent a cross-section of the buildings industry that include utilities, local governments, homebuilders, and end-users.
Some of the selected projects are:
-IBACOS will deploy a coordinated control program to optimize the energy use of a comprehensive mix of distributed energy resources in 1,000 new and existing homes, including single-family and multifamily homes and both owner-occupied and rental properties.
-PacifiCorp will establish a program to manage solar photovoltaic, batteries, electric vehicle charging in a diverse community of all-electric buildings and a mass transit transportation center, equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at scale.
-Portland General Electric will renovate over 500 buildings in North Portland’s historically underserved neighborhoods to reduce their energy burden with numerous energy efficiency measures and connected devices that provide the grid with a range on energy services.
-The Ohio State University will investigate the capacity of Ohio State’s existing on-campus connected community to provide essential but overlooked ancillary grid services from a diverse range of grid-interactive technologies in a cyber- and data-secure environment.