If One GEB is Good, a Community of GEBs is Better
Energy efficient, connected, grid-interactive, smart and flexible buildings are key to decarbonization, lowering energy use and improving the nation’s electricity grid. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Connected Communities initiative works to demonstrate how coordinated groups of highly efficient buildings combined with other distributed energy resources (DERs), such as electric vehicle (EV) charging, batteries, storage, demand response and photovoltaic (PV) generation can reliably and cost‐effectively serve as grid assets by strategically deploying efficiency and demand flexibility while reducing carbon emissions. In 2021, DOE competitively awarded $61 million to a diverse portfolio of 10 pilot projects to promote grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) working together to reliably and cost-effectively serve as grid assets while decarbonizing. Two of the main tenets of the program are measuring the communities’ energy and carbon performance and understanding how to replicate project successes in other communities.
This paper begins with a discussion of what Connected Communities are (including a brief history) and their many benefits, including reduced carbon emissions and increased building efficiency and demand flexibility. Next, it provides an overview of the 10 projects, highlighting the diversity of approaches to measure success and replicate the projects: geographic locations; building types; utility, regulatory, market environments; and building vintages that will be used to test the ability of buildings to serve as grid resources. It concludes with a discussion of anticipated project impacts and the metrics that will be used to evaluate the Connected Communities projects.