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International

eLab Accelerator 2018

The GridOptimal Initiative

Project Objective

The objective of the GridOptimal Initiative is to build a rating system that defines buildings as grid citizens. The first step will be to define the value and the need to stakeholders and determine metrics that account for the complexities of optimally operating buildings while still providing a transparent, understandable, and useful rating system. Our team seeks to find the balance between accounting for a multitude of factors and keeping things simple.

The team’s objectives at eLab Accelerator included:
1. Align around the need, stakeholders and value and create an elevator pitch.
2. Validate the methodology
3. Create a work plan

Team Members


  • Alexi Miller, Senior Project Manager at NBI

  • Mark Frankel, Technical Director at NBI

  • Brendan Owens, Senior VP of USGBC

  • Mark Leger, Customer Energy Solutions at Austin Energy

  • Obadiah Bartholomy, SMUD

  • Peter Turnbull, PG&E

  • Neil Bulger, Integral Group

  • Jamie Mandel, RMI

Project Description

New Buildings Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council are launching the GridOptimal Initiative: a collaborative effort to ensure that the new generation of low and zero energy buildings are optimized for grid integration. Today, many grid operators are struggling to integrate renewable energy production, while still balancing supply and demand during peak hours. Some regions are experiencing increased curtailment of renewable resources during high generation and slack demand periods. There are currently no metrics that define building-level grid citizenship, or rate building-grid interaction quality, and different players are using different language to discuss the topic. The aim of the GridOptimal Initiative is to provide standards, tools, and guidance to improve building-grid interactions by empowering utilities, regulators, grid operators, building owners, architects, engineers, and others with a dedicated building rating system. This will help improve the electricity grid's safety, affordability, reliability, resilience, and ability to integrate renewable energy.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

The project team has assembled a team of experts, conducted prelimary modeling, and has laid out a proposed metric and rating system methodological framework. A wide variety of stakeholders have weighed in, from utilities to regulators, from designers to national labs, from nonprofits to building owners. The project leaders at NBI have presented this concept at a wide variety of conferences and events and have published two white papers through ASHRAE (available upon request).

Accelerator Outcomes

The team’s time together at eLab Accelerator brought powerful alignment around the needs and concept for a building rating system recognizing building attributes that enable it to serve as a grid asset. The team got valuable feedback from other industry utility stakeholders. Finally, the team came away with a concise idea of the offering and next steps. The resulting workplan will help guide future efforts and partnerships and ultimately shape the ongoing narrative in the industry.

Project Background Information

More information about the GridOptimal Initiative can be found at www.newbuildings.org/gridoptimal-intiative.