A better way for your buildings to talk to your power grid (and why you should care)

Wed, 2016-06-15 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Smart buildings have great benefits. So do smart grids. But the greatest benefits come when they start talking to each other.

For instance, the grid can ask a building to reduce its power use for a few minutes during peak periods (and pay for the privilege). Or the building can sell excess power to the grid if it has solar panels or other on-site generation. There are many more examples.

Why should cities care? For one thing, most cities have lots of buildings, so they stand to reap the benefits of energy efficiency and payments from the grid operator for such things as demand response. For another, conversations between buildings and grids can make a city more resilient and a power grid more robust. You'll see other benefits described in the press release below.

This important dialogue is unlikely to occur until and unless there is a standard way to communicate. Happily, several organizations have teamed up to produce just such a standard, as you will read.

What should cities do? One first step is to alert your technical and procurement staff to the new standard. And then ask them to insist that your vendors and suppliers commit to supporting that standard in their products and services. — Jesse Berst


SGIP announced the publication of the new ANSI/ASHRAE/NEMA Standard 201P, Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM), which will open the door for electrical energy consumers to participate in smart grid networks. The standard is packaged with a User’s Manual.

The Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM) was developed in a collaboration by SGIP, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and ASHRAE (a society advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration).

The 201P FSGIM standard provides a way to model real building systems as a combination of four abstract components: loads, generators, meters and energy managers.

The kinds of functionality that will be enabled by the model include:

  • On-site generation management
  • Demand response
  • Electrical storage management
  • Peak demand management
  • Forward power usage estimation
  • Load shedding capability estimation
  • End load monitoring (sub-metering)
  • Power quality of service monitoring
  • Use of historical energy consumption data
  • Direct load control

A “facility” in the context of this standard can be a single-family house, a commercial or institutional building, a manufacturing or industrial building or multiple buildings such as a college campus. There is a range of control technology used in these facilities, with standards to support them. The 201P Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM)provides a common framework to guide the development of these control technologies so that they can meet the control needs of a smart grid environment.

The development of the standard began in 2010, led by Steve Bushby, chair of the Standard 201P committee, and it became SGIP’s Priority Action Plan 17. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the standard in early May 2016.

“SGIP’s Priority Action Plan (PAP) process is designed to identify standard gaps or needs and to facilitate the development, discussion, and recommendations for Smart Grid-related standards to advance grid modernization,” said Aaron Smallwood, director of technology operations for SGIP. “We’re pleased that the Facility Smart Grid Information Model PAP17 resulted in the development and approval of ASHRAE/NEMA Standard 201, and that we now have the opportunity to review Standard 201 for inclusion in SGIP’s Catalog of Standards.”

Standard 201P builds on and makes use of several other related standards applicable to the smart grid including:

  • IEEE 61850 (generators)
  • OASIS WS-Calendar
  • OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange
  • NAESB REQ Business Practices and Information Models to Support Priority Action Plan 10 — Standardized Energy Usage Information (Green Button)
  • OpenADR
  • Weather Exchange Model (WXXM)

In addition, a ballot has been initiated to approve Standard 201P Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM) as an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, via ISO/Technical Committee 205 Building Environment Design. If approved, the ballot, which is expected to take several months to complete, would move the standard to publication as an ISO standard.