Commercial buildings represent over one-third of electrical loads on hot summer days—reducing these loads helps improve grid reliability, flatten the system load shape, and reduce wholesale and retail costs. Demand response (DR) is any demand side action required to reduce electrical loads when contingencies such as emergencies and congestion occur that threaten system reliability and/or when market conditions raise supply costs.
Advanced building controls in commercial buildings can provide an excellent resource for demand response. Commercial buildings are a major contributor to summer peak demand, with large increases in cooling requirements on hot summer days. Recent estimates on the role of this sector in driving summer peak demands suggest that commercial buildings account for 330 coincident GW, which is 45% of the total for the entire U.S. summer peak demand.
As a corporate citizen, the Times Company is interested in using the combined capability of dimmable lighting, automated shades, and the underfloor air distribution system to shed peak loads during critical periods when an electricity brown-out or black-out was imminent. With co-funding from the CEC PIER Demand Response Research Center, LBNL and NaturalWorks estimated potential peak demand reductions were using the EnergyPlus building energy simulation program under different scenarios of curtailment, ranging from moderate to severe (see Publications). Financial implications were computed. The study concluded that small reductions in peak demand could be achieved above and beyond the reductions achieved with the normal energy-efficient mode of operation but with a penalty to the quality of the workplace environment. The Times Company relied on other components in their building to achieve demand-response goals.