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Building Integration with Smart Grid


New measurement science and industry standards are needed to enable building systems and consumers to interact with a future "smart grid," which supports the national goal to modernize the electric system by making it more robust and reliable. In the United States, commercial and residential buildings consume 72 % of all electricity. As building-scale renewable energy systems become more common, buildings will increasingly become generators of electricity as well as consumers. Future electric vehicles will be charged through plug-in connections managed by home and building automation systems. Utility-scale renewable generation systems will require responsive loads to match the fluctuations caused by varying wind and solar conditions. Consumers will need access to their own energy consumption data to make informed decisions about their energy consuming habits. For all these reasons, integration of building systems with the grid is a critical part of the stability and success of the smart grid.


Objective -To develop the measurement science for industry standards that will enable interconnection of home and building automation and control systems with a future "smart" utility grid, provide consumers with energy usage information, and support industry efforts to develop the needed standards.

What is the new technical idea? The new technical idea is to integrate homes and buildings into the next generation "smart grid" by developing the technical basis for standards governing real-time pricing, distributed energy resources (DER) (including demand response (DR), distributed generation, and energy storage), electric vehicle charging control, and consumer access to energy usage information. This project will develop information models, data representation methods, and communication protocols to enable these activities, working with industry stakeholders to analyze use cases and develop approaches that can be adopted through consensus standards. In addition, this project will perform research into novel facility control methodologies based on DER availability, electricity price, and local markets, with testing in a simulation environment, in the NIST Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed (VCBT), and in the NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERF).

What is the research plan? This project addresses communications, interoperability, and control approaches for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings via three research components: (1) information model development to enable data exchange within building systems and between buildings and the smart grid, (2) building controls research for optimal response to dynamic pricing and demand management signals in commercial and residential buildings, and (3) simulation and testing in the Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed and Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility. EL collaborates with industry stakeholders in the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) to identify interoperability standard gaps and research needs.

The information modeling effort includes definition of the building-to-grid communications interface, identifying key information elements needed for grid-to-facility communications, and development of priority facility interface standards as identified in the NIST Framework. These include price, demand response, energy usage and load, and communications for distributed energy resources (generation and storage) including load forecasting.

This work is resulting in Information modeling standards:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/ National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 201P Facility Smart Grid Information Model
  • North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) REQ.18/WEQ.19 Energy Usage Information standard
  • Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Energy Market Information eXchange (EMIX) standard for priceProtocol implementation standards:
  • NAESB REQ.21 Energy Service Provider Interface (ESPI)
  • OASIS Energy Interoperation for DR signals and market interactions
  • Extensions to ASHRAE Building Automation Control Network standard (BACnet) for meter, price and DER communications
  • Extension to BACnet web services to support Energy Interoperation
  • Standards for residential appliances and industrial process control implementation

The building controls research component will develop load and generation prediction algorithms, and DR optimization strategies for residential and commercial building interaction with the smart grid. These algorithms will take into account: DR signals; future electricity price, weather and occupancy information; availability of renewable energy (including storage); and user inputs.

In parallel with the other activities, the simulation and testing component will utilize unique NIST laboratory facilities (the VCBT and NZERTF) to test and demonstrate success of the information models and control strategies, and provide input into building codes and standards.

EL will also support the broader NIST smart grid program, providing technical direction and leadership within the SGIP on issues related to building interactions with the smart grid. EL will also provide leadership within the ASHRAE BACnet, ASHRAE Facility Smart Grid Information Model, OASIS Energy Interoperation, and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Project Committee (PC) 118 committees to advance these standards.

Major Accomplishments

Potential Technology Transfer Impacts:

  • The OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange (EMIX) and Energy Interoperation (EI) standards have been published and are in use, with potential to achieve significant broad-based end use in the future. EMIX defines an information model representing price and product information intended to serve as the basis for communication protocol standards that will exchange this information. EI builds on the product information from EMIX and specifies an information model and messages that enable standard communications of: demand response events, electricity prices, market participation bids and offers, and load and generation predictions. [Building Integration with Smart Grid, FY12]
  • Green Button Standards. With NIST leadership and SGIP priority action plan support, NAESB Energy Usage Information REQ-18/WEQ-19 and Energy Services Provider Interface (ESPI) REQ-21 standards have been published and provide the foundation for the Green Button Initiative to enable consumers to more readily access their own energy usage information in a standardized electronic format. Additionally, NAESB Third Party Access to Smart Meter-Based Information REQ-22 is being utilized in these efforts to better protect customers' privacy. Based on first adopter electric utility implementations, over 19 million U.S. customers now have Green Button Download My Data access, and a few utilities have implemented pilot Green Button Connect My Data programs. Based on additional utility commitments, the program will grow to include over 30 million customers in 2013, indicating significant potential for wide-spread use. [Building Integration with Smart Grid, FY12-FY13]
  • Green Button Software Development Kit. As described in a February 2013 NIST Techbeat article, NIST has contributed tools to support Green Button implementations and testing and certification programs, as well as web tools ( to enable self-testing of the structure of Green Button files. Multiple utilities and vendors have committed to the Green Button initiative and are using NIST Green Button tools to support their implementations. With additional NIST technical support, EPA implemented an upgrade of its Home Energy Yardstick residential evaluation tool to be able to upload Green Button data. [Building Integration with Smart Grid, FY13]
Created December 6, 2012, Updated August 31, 2016