Smart Buildings & DERs: The Path to a Greener, Resilient Grid     

A screenshot of "Table 2: WAYS IN WHICH GEBs CAN PROVIDE VALUE TO THE GRID". There are 4 columns (i.e. Ways, Load Impact, Example Measure, and Example Benefit." Efficiency: Load impact is simply just lowered. Example measure: Building has an insulated, tight envelope and an efficient HVAC system to reduce heating/cooling energy needs. And the example benefit is "Reduced costs of burning fuel to satisfy energy demand, and reduced emissions associated with lower fuel use." The other ways include "Shed Load", "Shift Load", "Modulate", and "Generate".

In the face of escalating energy demands and the urgency of tackling climate change, the intersection of smart buildings and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) is no longer just a luxury—it’s a necessity. Recognizing this, the US Department of Energy (USDOE) has offered a groundbreaking roadmap meant to meet the Biden administration’s 2030 climate goals.

Behind Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs)

The USDOE presents GEBs as the future—structures that seamlessly meld energy efficiency with smart technologies. Here’s a breakdown of this exciting concept:

  • Energy-Efficient Structures: It’s all about doing more with less.
  • Smart Tech: Harnessing innovations to automate, control, and optimize energy.
  • DERs: Using local resources to generate or store energy.
  • Goal: Achieve unparalleled energy efficiency, ensure occupant comfort, and drive cost reductions.

Smart Technologies

From predicting energy use to advanced construction techniques, smart technologies pave the way for more efficient, comfortable, and sustainable buildings. Imagine:

  • A building where HVAC systems self-adjust based on occupancy;
  • Real-time building management systems that react to changing grid conditions;
  • Advanced meters with two-way communication with the grid; and
  • High comfort levels for people in the building.

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Diving into Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

These are the powerhouses close to or on the building itself. From solar panels and wind turbines to innovative solutions like flywheels and anaerobic digesters, DERs are game changers. Not only do they contribute to energy supply, but they also support energy storage, playing a pivotal role in balancing demand.

The Big Picture: Resilient Grid and More

While single buildings benefit greatly, the magic truly unfolds when at the broader community scale. Did you know that buildings account for a whopping 70% of all U.S. electricity consumption and a significant chunk of emissions? This makes the USDOE’s move to promote GEBs pivotal for a resilient grid that can efficiently shed, shift, and modulate energy. This will ensure we consume and contribute.

How BuildingLens Fits In

At BuildingLens, we’re already on this journey. Our software-as-a-service remotely optimizes building systems, balancing energy, occupant comfort, and grid resilience. It’s heartening to see the USDOE championing this direction. Discover how BuildingLens can revolutionize your energy approach.


U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form 861, 2019.

Langevin, Harris & Reyna (2019), “Assessing the Potential to Reduce U.S. Building CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050.”


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