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How do you maximize load flexibility on the grid? We provide several solutions.

There is a dire need for programs and intervention that maximize load flexibility on the grid. Why? Clean energy production is becoming cheaper and more popular. However, it’s more intermittent and less controllable than using fossil fuels. In those cases, changing when we use energy can be as impactful as how much energy we use. Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEB) do just that – allow us to change when we use energy. In the future, this will be even more important as clean energy becomes just as cost effective as energy efficiency. Through GEB, we can incorporate energy efficiency and grid flexibility together. This capability allows building occupants to manage building comfort and productivity, save money, and benefit the electric grid by enhancing grid reliability and resilience.

Through our research, we aim to make equipment smarter through sensors, controls, connectivity, and communication. Our research and development in this area focuses on software and thermal storage, building operation, comfort impacts, and interactivity between GEBs and the grid. Our work in this space includes :

office space
The Integrated Controls study team performed a pilot study for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Integrated Lighting Campaign to integrate building systems more efficiently to produce greater cost savings and climate solutions. Read more
city at night symbolizing electric grid
Congratulations to two Slipstreamers for their recent appointments to ASHRAE’s new Task Force for Building Decarbonization. Read more
We are honored to be a part of two grid-interactive efficient building (GEB) solutions to be tested in U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) facilities. The pilot projects will determine how well these GEB solutions improve building energy efficiency. They will also test the ability to control the building energy system for load shedding and load shifting in order to reduce building peak demand and demand charges. Read more
building with wireless communication network
Why are so many utilities pivoting to grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEB)? Because load flexibility is becoming as important to decarbonization as energy efficiency. In some jurisdictions, utility demand charges can be 30-70% of a customer’s utility bill. Utilities and clean grid advocates see real potential in GEB. Utilities can use flexible building loads to help mitigate grid stresses in peak demand periods and help keep fossil fueled power plants offline. GEB can provide certain grid services like load shifting, load shedding, and modulation. Read more
smart grid
Peak demand patterns are changing and stressing the grid in new ways. What if our buildings could mitigate grid stress during peak demand? Connected lighting. Automated shades. Intelligent energy storage. Slipstream is analyzing how, when these systems work together, we can achieve maximum flexible load for the grid. We will design and implement the integrated systems on two real buildings. We’ll find out how these systems work for the grid and for people. Read more
supermarket refrigeration
Industrial refrigeration consumes more energy per cubic foot than any other utility load. Refrigerated facilities are energy intense and have a large peak demand. This demand creates significant impact on the grid. For an owner or operator, these facilities are expensive to operate. Thermal storage creates the opportunity to save energy and reduce or shift peak demand – resulting in energy cost savings. It also increases system resiliency. Read more
heat pump
Cold climate heat pumps provide economic, environmental, and grid benefits Can cold climate heat pumps deliver worthwhile results to homeowners and utilities? How do we design effective programs and product rebates to encourage heat pump adoption? We monitored residential centrally ducted, dual fuel air-source heat pumps in Michigan to find out. Read more
An illustration of load shifting measures
In Minnesota—one of many states pursuing an aggressive set of climate goals—50% of statewide electricity production is estimated to come from wind and solar by 2035. At the same time, traditional efficiency measures are reaching saturation in the market. If we are to successfully shift to a clean-energy grid that still meets our energy demands, it isn’t enough to change how we create our energy; we need to shift when we use our energy as well. Read more
HVAC ice storage
Help your power systems support renewable energy resources with thermal energy storage Cold thermal energy storage (CTES) can help utilities increase renewable energy production. CTES stores energy generated by solar or wind until it's needed by the utility. The University of Wisconsin-Madison partnered with Slipstream to research CTES control strategies that maximize how much renewable energy can be used. Read more
office meeting room
Does smart lighting deliver on its promises? We test lighting and controls performance to find out. Occupancy sensors. Daylight harvesting. Simple, automated commissioning. AND significant energy savings. Smart lighting developers promise they can do it all—but how do these technologies deliver when installed in real buildings? Read more
building automation
Deep energy savings. Lower installation and commissioning costs. All commercial building types. It’s time to move beyond lighting replacements. Read more
As the modern grid evolves, the electricity supply and demand will be more dynamic than ever. We need two-way communication between electric service providers and building energy management systems. Slipstream’s engineers created foundational education to empower building owners, designers, and building operators to build and operate for smart grid design. ASHRAE’s Smart Grid Application Guide: Integrating Facilities with the Electric Grid is the first and only of its kind developed for building designers and operators. Read more
daylight controls
Proper commissioning can lead to energy savings—often 60% or more Daylighting control, or daylight harvesting, has become a common energy savings strategy in many sustainable building projects, but several barriers still prevent successful implementation of this strategy in mainstream construction. Considerable effort is expended in the architectural and lighting design of daylighting controls, with actual execution being an afterthought. Read more
Application of air source variable refrigerant flow (VRF) in cold climates Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems use variable speed, split heat pumps to provide space heating and cooling to a building's conditioned areas. Air source VRF systems perform best in moderate climates, as they typically lose capacity and efficiency at low ambient temperatures—or moderately low wet bulb temperatures where defrost is required—and may be supplemented by an additional heat source. Read more
Energy savings and lessons learned from observed, practical approaches to demand control ventilation Demand control ventilation (DCV) systems use sensors — generally either CO2 or occupancy sensors — to estimate the actual number of people in an area and supply only as much ventilation air as is needed at a given time. DCV has the potential to save a substantial portion of building energy use in extreme climates like the northern Midwest. Read more
Building systems integration
A couple of years ago, my team conducted a research project investigating how to reduce the energy use of office plug loads. Among the solutions we tested, one option was a power strip with an occupancy sensor. It shut off your monitors and other gadgets when you were away from your desk. Many buildings we investigated also had occupancy sensors controlling the lighting in the same office space. One of the offices we tested had yet a third occupancy sensor network – and CO2 sensors to control the HVAC system in some spaces. Read more