Renewables Integration

Renewables Integration

Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) combine energy efficiency, strategic integration of renewables, and demand flexibility technologies and techniques to dynamically reduce and shift building energy use. GEB measures can lower energy costs and increase building performance while providing grid services that increase the reliability, flexibility, and resiliency of our electricity system. The Renewables Integration Technology Research Team is connecting researchers and commercial building partners to collect data, conduct demonstrations, and share information about GEB implementation.

What are the research challenges and gaps facing GEBs?: Learn More
Get the basics on GEBs: Read the Fact Sheet
Explore how different sectors incorporate solar PV: View Case Studies
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The Bulletin

The bi-monthly newsletter welcomes new Better Buildings partners, lists news stories, broadcasts partner solutions, offers opportunities to sign up for webinars, and more.

Get Involved

The Renewables Integration Team collaborates with researchers and industry experts to promote awareness and energy reduction through new technologies. Contact the Better Buildings Alliance to learn how you can get involved.

The Beat Blog

Explore interesting stories and happenings from the Better Buildings community, as well as the ins and outs of energy savings projects. Don't miss our Monthly Top 10 Solutions blog post.

Featured Solutions

This report evaluates the opportunities for grid-interactive efficient buildings, addressing core concepts related to how flexible building loads can be integrated and controlled to benefit consumers, the electric grid, and society more broadly.
This fact sheet explains what grid-interactive efficient buildings are, why they are important to modernizing our power grid, and the benefits to building occupants and owners.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Team hosted an exciting conversation on building load flexibility and grid coordination.
This report from Rocky Mountain Institute details the core ways that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) could leverage its size, leadership in the industry, and relationships with utilities and regulators to pioneer GEB opportunities across its portfolio.
This report describes grid-interactive efficient buildings in the context of state and local government interests; highlights trends, challenges, and opportunities for demand flexibility; provides an overview of valuation and performance assessments for demand flexibility; and outlines actions that state and local governments can take, in concert with utilities, regional grid operators, and building owners, to advance demand flexibility.
This report summarizes current practices and opportunities to encourage robust and cost-effective assessments of demand flexibility performance and improve planning and implementation based on verified performance.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Technology Research Team hosted an exciting webinar on electric vehicle (EV) charging and its impact on building energy demand. Presenters provided an overview of current EV charging technologies.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Team focused this call on utility rate structures and incentive programs to encourage continuous demand management in commercial buildings.
This resource highlights best practices in selecting a commercial solar provider. Business owners interested in going solar can take these steps to install an on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

Other Resources

Case Studies

Recognizing the opportunity in solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, BJ’s installed nearly 20 PV systems throughout Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Jersey. These systems collectively produce 5.5 megawatts of power annually, allowing BJ's to reduce operating and energy costs so they can direct more resources to their core mission.
Nixon Peabody made many energy efficiency renovations to their Washington, D.C. office and pursued LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors. They also incorporated renewable energy as an integral component to achieve their goal of saving $800 a month on their energy bill.
The Tower Companies is committed to being an environmental leader in the real estate industry and installed its first solar photovoltaic (PV) system on a large, class A office building in Washington, D.C. The solar installation contributed to the sustainability profile of the property, which was already certified LEED Gold.
TownePlace Suites discovered an unused four-acre piece of land adjoining one of its properties, and developed the land with a solar installation, decreasing electric costs and improving the hotel’s environmental reputation.
Madera Community Hospital completed the installation of a 1,140 kilowatt ground-mounted solar photovoltaic array through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The array produces 2,183,220 kWh annually and offsets approximately 40% of the hospital’s electricity consumption.
The Hampton Inn & Suites Bakersfield North- Airport operates in a hot climate and has high HVAC operating costs. To mitigate these costs, a carport solar array was installed, producing monthly savings of $8,800.
Bardessono, a hotel in Yountville, California was designed to be one of the most energy efficient hotels in the world. A major roof-top solar array was included in the design to achieve significant energy savings and LEED Platinum certification. The PV system produces approximately one-half of the electricity used by the hotel.
WDT Indio retrofit its 40-year-old, 32,000 square foot building, installing a 138 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array to offest 80 percent of the building’s energy consumption, in hopes to achieve net zero energy.
The North Shore-LIJ Healthcare System installed a 50 kilowatt solar array on one of their auxiliary buildings, producing 55,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, ensuring continuous energy cost savings and a cleaner energy resource.
Gundersen Health System constructed one of the nation's first LEED parking structures for a hospital, complete with PV panels. As of 2014, the system is one of the first to offset 100 percent of its energy use with renewable energy.

Fact Sheets

This resource highlights best practices in selecting a commercial solar provider. Business owners interested in going solar can take these steps to install an on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) system.
This fact sheet explains what grid-interactive efficient buildings are, why they are important to modernizing our power grid, and the benefits to building occupants and owners.

Guidance

This presentation examines solar finance for residential and commercial customers and potential roles of state and local government.
Use this template to develop your own Request For Proposal (RFP) document, which will effectively communicate the specifications of your desired PV solar project to vendors in your area.
Use this template in conjunction with the Solar PV RFP & Procurement Guidance Template to develop a customized form for vendors to complete when responding to your Solar PV RFP.  
This document is intended to reduce project development and operational risks while increasing the speed at which projects are completed -- two necessary components to reach the scale required to meet mandates and achieve cost savings for taxpayers. This guide is intended to act as a living document where lessons learned from the increasing number of projects can be incorporated and provide guidance for efforts.
This report provides guidance for businesses considering implementing solar PV, as there are widespread geographic differences regarding utility incentive structures, utility policies, regulatory structures, and permitting requirements.
Developed in partnership with Spark Northwest and the Center for Sustainable Energy, IREC’s guide outlines two potential pathways to enable greater solar access for renters and multifamily residents and LMI communities in Seattle.
This document provides guidance for implementing Solar PV in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Solar PV has the potential to provide significant benefits to hotels by way of attracting guests and, more importantly, reducing operating costs.
This guide is intended for anyone investigating the addition of energy storage to a single or multiple commercial buildings. 
When a commercial building owner first considers installing solar PV, the first questions they ask typically involve how the system will be mounted to their roof and its impact on the roof warranty. This fact sheet addresses such common questions as identified by the Better Buildings Alliance’s Renewables Integration Team.

Implementation Model

At its Regency Saugus Center in Massachusetts, national retail center owner Regency Centers partnered with tenant Trader Joe's to install a 253 KW rooftop solar system. Regency Centers owns the solar array and sells the generated solar energy power to Trader Joe's at a discount, offsetting approximately 65% of their total electricity use with clean power.

Reports

This guide explores the benefits, barriers, and strategies to installing solar on leased buildings, including commercial real estate.
This report describes grid-interactive efficient buildings in the context of state and local government interests; highlights trends, challenges, and opportunities for demand flexibility; provides an overview of valuation and performance assessments for demand flexibility; and outlines actions that state and local governments can take, in concert with utilities, regional grid operators, and building owners, to advance demand flexibility.
This report describes how current methods and practices that establish value to the electric utility system of investments in energy efficiency and other distributed energy resources (DERs) can be enhanced to determine the value of grid services provided by demand flexibility.
This report summarizes current practices and opportunities to encourage robust and cost-effective assessments of demand flexibility performance and improve planning and implementation based on verified performance.
As the grid transforms, buildings are in a unique position to assist in the actualization of grid modernization goals. This DOE-sponsored report from the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP) examines the trends around grid-interactive efficient buildings and grid modernization in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest regions of the U.S.
Connected Communities (CCs) are collections of buildings and distributed energy resources (DERs) that incorporate integrated energy management strategies at the multi-building scale. This report explores the many factors that influence the development and operation of CCs and evaluates their potential value.
This report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reviews filings from 44 of the largest utilities in the country to identify and describe existing energy efficiency and demand response (EE/DR) programs, examines barriers to more prevalent EE/DR, and makes recommendations for overcoming them.
This paper from ACEEE examines the status of utility-run GEB programs in the U.S. It describes early examples of pilots and programs, discusses barriers to further adoption, and concludes with recommendations to help utilities and program administrators take advantage of the opportunity presented by GEBs.
This DOE-funded report from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) provides a summary of the residential and small commercial grid-interactive building demand-side management (DSM) programs at the major utilities in the Southwest, highlighting existing programs in the region that are using GEBs as a resource to help with the integration of variable renewable generation and to provide other grid services that create value for customers.

Webinars

The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Team discussed building-to-grid integration in the context of COVID and how the pandemic is accelerating the transition to grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs).
Watch this 2020 Summit workshop to learn more about the solar project development process and hear insights from EPA's Green Power Partnership Program as well as partner case studies from Orlando, FL and the University of Virginia.
In this 2020 Summit session, industry experts discussed value streams and tools for evaluating DERs, while Better Building partners shared their successful experiences using DERs to reduce costs and keep operating when the grid goes down.
This webinar highlighted examples of low-income renewable energy programs, including the Solar in Your Community Challenge and the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator, best practices, and discussed DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership.
This webinar focused on the strategic integration of DERs in commercial buildings. Join speakers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Kaiser Permanente for a discussion of methods and best practices for integrating and optimizing the performance of renewables, thermal energy storage, and battery energy for load flexibility.
This webinar introduced the DER technology options, described multiple value streams from these DERs, and presented a landscape of customer-sited DER solution providers.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Team focused this call on utility rate structures and incentive programs to encourage continuous demand management in commercial buildings.
The Renewables Integration Technology Research Team hosted presenters who provided an overview of the publication Integrated Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Programs. In addition, attendees heard from Better Buildings partners who have engaged in efficiency and demand response programs.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Technology Research Team hosted an exciting webinar on electric vehicle (EV) charging and its impact on building energy demand. Presenters provided an overview of current EV charging technologies.
The Better Buildings Alliance Renewables Integration Team hosted an exciting conversation on building load flexibility and grid coordination.

Additional Information

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings Initiative
DOE research is helping make buildings become smarter about the amount and timing of energy use through the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) Initiative. In addition to improving the energy efficiency of the overall building, this research focuses on making equipment more intelligent through next-generation sensors, controls, connectivity, and communication.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Find policies and incentives by state.

SunShot Resource Center
The Solar Energy Resource Center has over 100 unique documents developed by DOE, the national laboratories, and SunShot awardees.

Sector Priorities

Meet the Technology Expert

Rois Langner has worked as a building scientist and architectural engineer in the Commercial Buildings Research Group at NREL since the beginning of 2010. Her past research efforts have focused on building energy efficiency projects that utilize OpenStudio software to analyze and optimize building design and performance for military and large commercial buildings. She has worked with organizations to develop, implement, and maintain energy management policies and systems for continual energy improvement. More recently, she has worked to support the small commercial building sector in overcoming barriers that inhibit the adoption of energy efficiency solutions. Additionally, Rois supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance, leading the Renewables Integration Technology Research Team. If you would like more information on the Renewables Integration Team, please contact rois.langner@nrel.gov.