PRINCIPLE 6: Integration with Energy Networks
Integrate electric vehicle (EV) charging where appropriate. Combined Charge Systems with local control and the option of virtual power plant aggregated control or frequency response should be considered. As technology develops, bi-directional charging will allow EVs to deliver energy to buildings as required.
Key Design Considerations
Ultimately, Active Buildings aim to reduce the energy demand of buildings on the energy networks and, to do this, intelligent, proactive, energy management is essential to enable control of the energy profile, such as to display a ‘flat’ demand profile externally. This is achievable through the controlled use of sensors, metering, power tags, heat meters, forecasting, trading, optimization and monetarization. The aim of an Active Building is to have no uncontrolled import or export of energy. Characteristics of an electrical demand management strategy include:
- Reducing the building’s demand on the grid.
- Equipping the Building Management System (BMS) with the ability to forewarn occupants of likely load peaks in advance.
- Enabling flexibility and reducing peak loads, which reduces costs and eases pressure on the grid, and the creation of business models which allow value creation.
- Demand Side Response (DSR) provides an opportunity for Active Buildings to play a role in the operation of the electricity grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives. This enables dynamic energy pricing, as well as reducing grid stress.
- Predictive controls, based on weather forecasts or occupancy calendars.
- Self-learning optimization, based on price or carbon intensity. Weather forecasting is also a factor when making decisions on how much energy to import or export, and when, e.g. when price is low, energy should be imported, but it may get cheaper and there may not be any capacity left to take more charge. Energy trading in this way is similar to trading on the stock exchange, i.e. using informed decisions, which may or may not provide the optimum outcome.
- Vector optimization – selecting the preferred energy source based on weather forecast, for example.
In designing the strategy, consideration should be given to:
- National grid auxiliary services, e.g. aggregation of batteries and frequency response.
- Reducing peak demand, which is more important than overall levels of generation without a flexible approach to deployment, i.e. flexibility and reducing peak loads, hence reducing costs, not adding pressure on the grid, considering new business models, allowing value creation and enabling critical value extraction.
- The technical effects on local grid phases for sudden load or dump conditions.
Demand Side Response (DSR)
DSR describes a type of energy service that large-scale industrial and commercial consumers of electricity can use to help keep the grid balanced. DSR participants either decrease or increase their facility’s power consumption when they receive signals (requests for help) to do so, thereby helping the grid to maintain its 50Hz frequency.
As well as offering financial benefits, using DSR offers huge benefits to the Grid, helping stabilise the UK’s electricity supply and enabling more use of renewable energy.
Opportunities for aggregated DSR (using smaller systems working in concert) to enter these energy trading markets are emerging and trials are underway (2020). Flexibility and control via an external source are vital for participation in these types of schemes.
LETI Demand Side Response:
- Develop a Demand Side Response Strategy
- Design to reduce peak electrical demand
- Incorporate active demand response measures (e.g. storage and controls)
- Influence occupant behaviour – display and report energy demand and generation
There are an increasing number of companies developing smart grid solutions, which will play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon energy economy. Some of these are highlighted below:
- SNRG (Senergy): a design and technology company focused on creating and integrating solutions to develop Zero-Carbon Co-Living Communities.
- Power Transition: An Integrated Microgrid as a Service (iMaaS) software platform designed to help solve the challenges of the energy sector.
- Sero Energy: provide an energy management service for homes, using the lowest cost and lowest carbon energy is used. They do this by combining all the homes they manage, with smart forecasting and energy storage; which enables them to buy electricity in bulk like a commercial user at the times of day or night it is cheapest; which means they can drive down costs for residents, while providing services that help support more renewable energy on the National Grid.
- The Electric Corby Community Interest Company (CIC) supports a range of community project, such as:
- Etopia Corby: a development of 47 eco homes
- YourCommunity.Energy: a connected smart energy network that enables more renewable electricity generation with the aim of providing reduced energy costs for residents and businesses.
- Evergreen Smart Power: A software platform connecting domestic devices to form a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) which rewards householders for their flexibility in energy usage. This was trialled through a project called FRED, and was found to save EV drivers an average of £110 a year and cut carbon by 20%.
- Carbon Track: a technology company that connects energy distributors and energy consumers, delivering embedded networks, VPPs and facilitating smart grids.
SOLshare Case Study
Access to electricity per head of population in Bangladesh is amongst the lowest in the world. Using the SOLshare platform, Bangladesh now has the biggest Solar Home System in the world, helping communities to build an electricity grid from the bottom up, starting by interconnecting homes within villages, then connecting villages together. This decentralised community energy micro-grid means homes become the energy grid (or power station) for the whole country. This provides a reliable power supply, that is democratic, efficient and helps local economies.
How it works: Homeowners with solar panels and battery storage can purchase a box that allows them to buy and sell energy between homes. If they can’t afford solar panels and batteries, they can still buy the box, which allows them to buy energy when they need it.
- Carry out preliminary investigations with the relevant Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to determine export capacity at an early design stage.
- Set out a clear control strategy with energy generation and storage installer.
Remote Monitoring Systems
Particularly suited to asset management, such as social housing providers; universities, local authorities, health board estate owners, etc.
Such systems can monitor temperature, relative humidity, CO2 levels and correlate this with information such as house type, construction method, and insulation levels. This could help analyse any issues identified within buildings and help make savings in fuel bills and carbon emissions.
- Assist with building performance evaluation (BPE)
- Enable optimisation of building performance
- Reduce fuel bills
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Reduce maintenance visits
- Educate and illustrate the impact of behaviour on building performance
Safehouse Technology provides end-to-end environmental monitoring solutions using LPWAN (low powered wide area network) technology to accurately monitor a wide range of internal environmental and wellbeing factors, including temperature, humidity, light, noise, CO2, VOCs, air pressure, air quality, and movement.
Read about a collaborative pilot project at SPECIFIC’s Active Office here.
Measurable Energy provides a building control and management system that reduces electricity waste through real-time monitoring of small power used in buildings. Read about their collaborative pilot project with SPECIFIC here.
Environmental Dashboard Case Study
Oberlin College in Ohio, USA, have developed a Citywide Dashboard and individual Building Dashboards to visualise energy flows through the city and engage with the citizens to “create more vibrant, resilient and sustainable communities”.
The dashboards provide information on current environmental conditions, together with a real-time figure of electricity consumption per person, information on water consumption, citywide electrical consumption, building consumption figures, carbon emissions, electricity consumption for different uses, etc.
This serves to increase awareness of energy and water consumption, connecting the citizens to their consumption and enabling comparisons between buildings or uses within the city. With the ability to visualise their consumption, this introduces an element of competition whereby citizens aim to improve their consumption and carbon emissions in relation to others within the city and on behalf of the city overall.
For more detailed information on Active Building energy monitoring, please refer to the following documents:
- Active Building Monitoring Specifications
- Active Building Energy Dashboard Design Guide
- Active Office Case Study