Getting Beyond Widgets: Enabling Utility Incentive Programs for Commercial Building Systems

Getting Beyond Widgets: Enabling Utility Incentive Programs for Commercial Building Systems

Outline of commercial buildings on a blue circular background

Utility incentive programs remain one of the most significant means of deploying commercialized, but underutilized building technologies to scale. However, these programs remain focused on component level products, and therefore miss opportunities to realize deeper energy savings levels resulting from systems level approaches. This DOE funded project aims to unlock this potential via working with Utilities and Regulators to establish assessment and M&V methods for integrated building systems to be implemented under Utility incentive programs nationwide.

Accessing deep energy savings in commercial buildings requires a move beyond the component-level upgrades currently prevalent in the market. Utility incentive programs will continue to be a key driver of energy savings, so reflecting the needs of Utilities and Regulators is critical in moving to an incentive evaluation system that also accurately and appropriately appraises systems-level energy performance.

Beyond Widgets schematic

Over the course of this 3 year project, LBNL researchers are working with 3 sets of Utilities to identify and develop validated protocols for specific building systems. The selected systems are:

  • Automated shading, coupled with daylight dimming systems for medium-large commercial offices (working with ComEd in Chicago)
  • Task/ambient lighting retrofit coupled with plug load occupancy controls (working with California POUs, NCPA and SCPPA)
  • Daylight redirecting film paired with daylight dimming systems (working with Xcel Energy in Colorado and Minnesota)

The energy savings potential of these systems will then be demonstrated and the M&V protocols validated using FLEXLAB® (Facility for Low Energy experiments in Buildings). FLEXLAB is a unique test facility that allows true comparison tests of integrated building systems, with high granularity of thermal, visual and power measurement data. The validated energy efficient systems will then be deployed through partner Utility incentive programs. Project tasks will include developing system specifications, systems performance measurement and validation protocols, identifying operating practices to ensure persistence of energy savings, and providing guidelines for implementation to ensure successful assessment, testing and delivery of systems in the context of incentive programs.

The system specifications and descriptions of applicable customer sites for each system will be posted on this site, in the fall of 2016. Program manuals with further documentation, test results will be posted in 2017.

System Program Manuals and Assessment Methods


Project Lead
Project Co-lead