Connected Communities Program Drives Innovation in Grid-Efficient Buildings
From single-family and multifamily housing to commercial buildings and university campuses, groups of buildings offer untapped potential to boost energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through its Connected Communities program, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched nine demonstration projects across the country to explore this potential.
DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will serve as national coordinator for the awarded projects, which will collaborate as a cohort. The Connected Communities program aims to establish best practices and drive innovation that will enable groups of buildings to coordinate electric load control, integrate distributed energy resources, and provide flexible grid services, while also incorporating energy-efficiency improvements of 30% or more over baseline energy use.
“These projects are an important part of DOE’s efforts to decarbonize the U.S. buildings sector, which currently accounts for nearly three-quarters of the nation’s electricity use,” said Cindy Regnier, the Berkeley Lab principal investigator for Connected Communities. “A key aspect of the projects is enabling the grid to operate in a way that supports the expansion and best use of clean, renewable energy, through the use of energy efficiency, flexible building loads and distributed energy resources such as EV charging and batteries.”
DOE kicked off the inaugural cohort in November at the site of one of the projects, the Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus. The OSU project involves upgrading a diverse group of existing and new buildings with features such as flexible building technologies (e.g., HVAC controls and water heating) and integrating the buildings with on-campus EV charging, solar panels, battery storage, and a combined heat and power plant.
Other Connected Communities projects include one that will connect up to 1,000 new and existing homes in Raleigh, North Carolina to solar power, battery storage, and smart thermostats; and another that involves retrofitting nearly 600 commercial and residential buildings within a low-income and traditionally underserved community in Portland, Oregon.
Read about all of the projects and learn more about Connected Communities at connected communities.lbl.gov.