NIBS Collaborates on Primer to Help Buildings Professionals Navigate Energy Industry

A new publication is now available to offer buildings professionals a practical look at the future of the energy sector and the role of buildings.

The resource, Building Our New Energy Future, is a primer tailored to prepare buildings professionals for the challenges and opportunities of designing efficient and grid-responsive buildings within the changing energy sector. The primer was developed for ASHRAE, in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

In 2015, NIBS collaborated with DOE to develop a common definition for what it means to be a zero energy building. That effort, which brought together a diverse set of building stakeholders, contributed to this publication.

“This primer was developed by a team of buildings experts across industries to provide a common language understanding of key topics that will affect our energy future,” said ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter, PE, Fellow ASHRAE. “Our new energy future has many exciting opportunities and challenges and this document provides guidance to help buildings professionals not only become more aware of the steps needed to move our energy future forward, but also shows them how they can become involved to ensure our new energy future serves all humanity and promotes a sustainable world.”     

The primer explores resources on topics such as distributed energy resources (DERs), electric vehicles and buildings, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart grids and buildings, the future of utilities and high-performance building design. 

Strategies to communicate about prioritizing loads, storing versus using energy, and advances in renewable energy are provided throughout the primer. It also shares how new practice areas and business opportunities for building professionals will emerge in this drive toward a more sustainable built environment.

“It is vital that decision makers understand how the nation’s electrical grid works when they are taking steps to reduce energy usage—whether it’s at the building or community level—or they could unknowingly cause the reverse result,” said NIBS President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “Building Our New Energy Future clearly explains this complicated topic so people recognize the impacts their energy choices have on the power grid, occupant comfort level and their bottom line.”

Building Our New Energy Future offers a variety of resources and practical advice to help buildings professionals dissect the intricacies of the evolving energy future, including:

  • Facts behind the changes in grid infrastructure, utility business models and building load management
  • Practical advice for owners, designers and construction professionals on smart-grid integration
  • A look at how to control loads and manage them in a way that will impact the electrical system infrastructure’s performance
  • Information on how the technology sector is already engaged in building automation and controls, and renewable generation and energy storage
  • Project examples of renewable electricity generation of renewable energy sources with customer-sited energy storage, rooftop solar PV, Solar Integration Systems (SIS) and off-grid solar plus storage microgrid systems

“With the publication of Building Our New Energy Future, ASHRAE has articulated a vision for the future of the electrical grid, providing architects with essential information that defines the symbiotic relationship between high-performance building design, on-site renewable energy and energy management systems and off-site energy solutions,” said Carl Elefante, AIA President.

The WBDG Whole Building Design Guide® hosted by NIBS offers expanded resource pages on many of these subjects.

Download the primer.

To learn more about the different topics, visit the WBDG

About the National Institute of Building Sciences

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.




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