Developing and Evaluating Metrics for Demand Flexibility in Buildings: Comparing Simulations and Field Data
Building demand flexibility (DF) has attracted significant attention in recent years among researchers, technology developers and control companies, aggregators, utilities, and many others. There are numerous challenges with today's electricity systems such as managing peak demand capacity and integrating variable renewables into the grid. Flexible building loads can provide various grid services to help reduce electricity costs, smooth out renewables intermittency and balance supply and demand. Recognizing this, the US DOE is leading the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) initiative which includes research to evaluate the potential, availability and timing of flexible loads. In this paper we present load shed metrics for three building types – medium office, large office and retail store – and compare prototype simulation results with measured data from 12 actual buildings that participated in hot summertime utility demand response (DR) events. The DR strategies included varying zone temperature and reducing light levels. The magnitude of a key DF metric, "demand decrease intensity" (or "shed intensity") (W/ft2), between the simulation results and field data are similar (14-32% differences) for both mean and median values, though the field data show much larger variation among DR events. The coefficient p-values from linear regression model tests showed that outside air temperature is a significant variable for the whole building shed intensity when the resetting zone temperature strategy is deployed. These findings support the concept of using prototype building simulation to estimate building DF and expanding future simulation research to additional building types and climate zones.