Smart Buildings could be the killer app that secures widespread adoption of the Smart Grid for three reasons: (1) advanced analytics will generate buy-in (2) advanced integration will provide flexibility for adoption across industries, and (3) Smart Buildings will provide two-way communication of Smart Grid goals and benefits between customers and utilities.
Yesterday I listened to The Energy Collective's web forum: "Smart Grid, Better Demand Response." The panel introduced their predictions for the Smart Grid killer app, and I would argue all of the contenders: electric vehicles, auto-DR, on-site generation, and smart appliances could roll into the real "killer app" - the Smart Building.
1. Advanced Analytics: Last month we published a global Smart Buildings (SB) spending forecast and a perspective on market opportunities and challenges. Far and away the cost of SB investments is the biggest hurdle selling the value of Smart Building solutions. The number one reason a Smart Building can be the killer app of the Smart Grid is also the point of leverage for selling the individual solutions. Advanced analytics will show the numbers that matter. Dashboards, smart phone apps, and other signals will illustrate the impacts of automated controls on lights, HVAC, and plug load devices and demonstrate progress toward a variety of goals. As the panel discussed on the Energy Collective call, customer buy-in is crucial to success of smart grid devices and buy-in will come when it is clear goals can be met.
2. Advanced Integration: The complete integration of the building automation system, on-site generation, sensors, controllers, and networking will allow a building manager to hone facility operations to meet the specific financial or sustainability goals of the building's ultimate decision-makers. The take-away here is that advanced integration will provide a new level of flexibility for optimizing building management to meet the changing goals and priorities of businesses from healthcare to manufacturing to commercial office leasing.
3. Two-way Communication: From the early days of manual participation in demand response programs to the next era of automated demand response, it is increasingly evident communication between buildings and the grid can generate benefits for both building owners and grid operators.
Smart Buildings will act as dynamic collaborators with the grid by creating a mechanism for two-way communication between customers and utilities. The Smart Building will communicate customer priorities with finely calibrated signals of energy demand and capacity to shed load to the grid, and utilities will be able to communicate grid needs in real time with increasingly sophisticated demand response and other price signal programs.
In the end a Smart Building could be the killer app because it will effectively demonstrate the value of the smart grid to decision-makers, and help electric utilities to validate demands for Smart Grid investments.