Factors Influencing Building Demand Flexibility

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Roadmap for Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) acknowledged that building demand flexibility (DF) is both an important strategy to decarbonizing the buildings sector and an important resource for meeting the changing needs of the electrical grid such as improving grid reliability. However, understanding the complexity and uncertainties in real building field performance of DF strategies is a large gap hindering stakeholders on both grid and buildings side to make investments on deploying such strategies. The research work in this report intended to advance understanding of the variability and influential factors in building demand flexibility. Adding such knowledge based on lab testing results and measured performance data from real buildings is an important contribution. The report uses standardized metrics and methods to quantify DF performance from field-measured DF datasets of two significant building groups of big-box retail and medium office buildings to present the challenge of building DF variability in multiple dimensions. The report presents findings related to how several key factors influence building demand flexibility from implementing a common, cost-effective DF control strategy (i.e., adjusting zone temperatures). The findings are supported by full-scale lab testing, field data analysis and simulation research. The authors also provided application-oriented recommendations to stakeholders such as building aggregators, utility program design professionals, sophisticated building portfolio owners, and more.

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