USGBC’s LEED DR Credit Encourages Peak Load Reduction

Written October 23rd, 2014 by
Categories: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Green Building, Opinion

2014-10-gb-maccracken-speaking-calmac-thumbLEED v.4 includes a “Demand Response” credit. A better name would underscore important contributions by building owners who reshape their peak loads every day.


The LEED Demand Response credit is essentially a peak load reduction credit, with temporary and permanent ways to do that,” says Mark MacCracken, CEO of CALMAC. “Demand response is temporary relief for the grid, while permanent load reduction fundamentally changes the way a building consumes energy.”

Mr. MacCracken will be a panelist today at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, in an education session titled, “Challenges & Opportunities: Demand Response & Peak Load Reduction.” New Jersey-based CALMAC manufactures IceBank thermal storage units used in cooling commercial buildings.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standard version 4 includes a Demand Response (DR) credit intended to reduce the load on the electric grid through either temporary or permanent peak load reduction. It’s available in the LEED Building Design & Construction (BD+C) and the Operation & Maintenance (O+M) rating systems.

During the development of the credit, it was given to a building that temporarily reduced energy use during a demand response call. The next step, in the new LEED v4 O+M for Existing Buildings, was to give credit to a building owner who invested in permanent load shifting technologies.

Intent of the LEED v4 Demand Response Credit:

“To increase participation in demand response technologies and programs that make energy generation and distribution systems more efficient, increase grid reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Most readers might interpret “demand response technologies and programs” to mean those that enable the short-term temporary shedding of loads. Reading farther into the credit description, though, it does address both types of environmental synergies between buildings and the grid. The panel this morning will explain the requirements for the LEED DR credit.

If you missed the session and want to better understand peak load management strategies and benefits, reporter Jeff Guo explains them in detail in his Washington Post article, “It’s not just how much electricity you use. It’s also when you use it.” As Jeff puts it, “Even if we used the same amount of electricity, the system would still be cheaper and cleaner overall.”

 

WHEN YOU THINK of demand response with regard to cooling, you might think of pre-cooling buildings if possible, or raising setpoints for a few hours during the DR call. While thermal storage is typically associated with everyday peak load management strategies, it can be used in demand response.

Thermal storage cooling units make ice at night, when electric rates are lowest. That ice is used to help cool the building during the day, to avoid the highest electric rates and to reduce utility peak demand charges.

But — assuming the utility gives enough notice of the demand response call — a thermal cooling system owner could save the previous night’s ice until the demand response call time, and only then use the ice to replace electric cooling.

That strategy wouldn’t make financial sense for some buildings. In many cases it would mean running the electric chiller more during the remainder of the day, which could spike the building’s peak demand and result in higher costs for the building.

“It would help dramatically if utilities would waive the demand charges for that day,” Mr. MacCracken says. “Then they would get a lot of thermal storage owners to save their reserve cooling for the hours when the utilities need it.”

 

Greenbuild slides

Peak load management strategies reduce costs day to day, not just during demand response events. (CALMAC graphic)

THERMAL STORAGE, for Mr. MacCracken, isn’t just about shaving peak loads in buildings. Renewable energy sources and storage are integrally linked.

“We’ve got to reduce our carbon emissions,” Mr. MacCracken says. “Fossil fuels are a form of stored energy. When we extract it, we store it. When you try to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar, those don’t have storage. To replace fossil fuels we need to replace the storage aspect of it also. A lot of storage will have to be added on both sides of the electric meter to tackle this climate issue that we have.”

With all the talk of adding storage to the power grid, there is very little of it to date. Most implementations are experiments or pilots. Batteries remain extremely expensive.

“We’re going to have to be adding a lot of storage to buildings and the grid,” Mr. MacCracken adds. “Ignoring storage is what has caused problems with the grid, and high energy prices.”

The 2014 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is in New Orleans, LA, this week. “Challenges & Opportunities: Demand Response & Peak Load Reduction” is session D08 in the Research track, from 8:00 to 9:00 on Thursday, October 23, 2014. CALMAC is in booth 1131 on the expo floor.

Greenbuild CALMAC photo

Updated: CALMAC CEO Mark MacCracken speaking about peak load reduction at Greenbuild

LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building certification and rating system developed by the USGBC. Mark MacCracken served as Chair of the USGBC National Board of Directors, and is a LEED Fellow.

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Denis Du Bois has been attending Greenbuilds since 2005. He serves as a session reviewer for Greenbuild. 

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