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Building Integration with Smart Grid Project


New measurement science and industry standards are needed to enable building systems and consumers to interact with a future “smart grid,” which supports the national goal to modernize the electric system by making it more robust and reliable. In the United States, commercial and residential buildings consume 72% of all electricity[1]. As building-scale renewable energy systems become more common, buildings will increasingly become generators of electricity as well as consumers. Future electric vehicles will be charged through plug-in connections managed by home and building automation systems. Utility-scale renewable generation systems will require responsive loads to match the fluctuations caused by varying wind and solar conditions. Consumers will need access to their own energy consumption data to make informed decisions about their energy consuming habits. For all these reasons, integration of building systems with the grid is a critical part of the stability and success of the smart grid.

[1] DOE Buildings Energy Data Book


Objective: To develop the measurement science for industry standards that will enable interconnection of home and building automation and control systems with a future "smart" utility grid, provide consumers with energy usage information, and support industry efforts to develop the needed standards.

What is the new technical idea? The new technical idea is to integrate homes and buildings into the next generation “smart grid” by developing the technical basis for standards governing real-time pricing, distributed energy resources (DER) (including demand response (DR), distributed generation, and energy storage), electric vehicle charging control, and consumer access to energy usage information. This project will develop information models, data representation methods, and communication protocols to enable these activities, working with industry stakeholders to analyze use cases and develop approaches that can be adopted through consensus standards. In addition, this project will perform research into novel facility control methodologies based on DER availability, electricity price, and local markets, with testing in a simulation environment, in the NIST Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed (VCBT), and in the NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERF).

What is the research plan? This project addresses communications, interoperability, and control approaches for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings via three research components: (1) information model development to enable data exchange within building systems and between buildings and the smart grid, (2) building controls research for optimal response to dynamic pricing and demand management signals in commercial and residential buildings, and (3) simulation and testing in the Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed and Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility. EL collaborates with industry stakeholders in the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) to identify interoperability standard gaps and research needs.

The information modeling effort includes definition of the building-to-grid communications interface, identifying key information elements needed for grid-to-facility communications, and development of priority facility interface standards as identified in the NIST Framework.[2] These include price, demand response, energy usage and load, and communications for distributed energy resources (generation and storage) including load forecasting.

This work is resulting in

  1. Information modeling standards:
    • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/ National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 201P Facility Smart Grid Information Model
    • North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) REQ.18/WEQ.19 Energy Usage Information standard
    • Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Energy Market Information eXchange (EMIX) standard for price
  1. Protocol implementation standards:
    • NAESB REQ.21 Energy Service Provider Interface (ESPI)
    • OASIS Energy Interoperation for DR signals and market interactions
    • Extensions to ASHRAE Building Automation Control Network standard (BACnet) for meter, price and DER communications
    • Extension to BACnet web services to support Energy Interoperation
    • Standards for residential appliances and industrial process control implementation

The building controls research component will develop load and generation prediction algorithms, and DR optimization strategies for residential and commercial building interaction with the smart grid. These algorithms will take into account: DR signals; future electricity price, weather and occupancy information; availability of renewable energy (including storage); and user inputs.

In parallel with the other activities, the simulation and testing component will utilize unique NIST laboratory facilities (the VCBT and NZERTF) to test and demonstrate success of the information models and control strategies, and provide input into building codes and standards.

EL will also support the broader NIST smart grid program, providing technical direction and leadership within the SGIP on issues related to building interactions with the smart grid. EL will also provide leadership within the ASHRAE BACnet, ASHRAE Facility Smart Grid Information Model, OASIS Energy Interoperation, and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Project Committee (PC) 118 committees to advance these standards.


[2] NIST Special Publication 1108R2, NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, February 2012.

Major Accomplishments:

Potential Research Impacts:

  • Holmberg, D.G., “Demand Response and Standards: Enabling a New Role for Buildings in the Smart Grid,” ASHRAE Journal, Nov. 2011.
  • Holmberg, D.G., Ghatikar, G., Koch, E.L., Boch, J., “OpenADR Advances,” ASHRAE Journal, Nov. 2012.

Realized Research Impacts:

  • Holmberg, D.G, Bushby, S.T. Butler, J.F. "BACnet for Utilities and Metering", ASHRAE Journal, Vol 50 No. 4, April 2008.
  • Holmberg, D.G., Bushby, S.T. "BACnet and the Smart Grid", ASHRAE Journal, Vol. 51 No. 11, November 2009.

New Functionality for Building Systems:

  • Draft ASHRAE/NEMA Facility Smart Grid Information Model standard. This standard, currently under development with NIST technical leadership and using the results on NIST research, will define an information model to represent the information necessary to manage electrical generation and consumption in a home, office building or commercial facility. (FY 2012)
  • The OpenADR 2.0 standard has been drafted and is nearing completion. This standard represents an implementation of a subset of OASIS Energy Interoperation (EI) features that specifically relate to demand response (OpenADR refers to Open Automated Demand Response). Demand response in Open ADR 2.0 can be triggered by either price signals or by requests to shed load based on a set of levels. OpenADR 2.0 is a refinement on a previous version that has been used in many field trials in the U.S. and several other countries. It is supported by an industry alliance (OpenADR Alliance) that is beginning interoperability testing of the revised version. Interoperability testing is a necessary first step towards broader implementation. (FY 2013)
  • Smart Energy Profile (SEP) 2.0 has been recently completed and published by the Zigbee Alliance. SEP2.0 is a key standard identified in the NIST framework, covering residential consumer energy communications with devices. (FY 2013)

Impact of Standards and Tools:

  • Published OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange standard (EMIX). EMIX defines an information model representing price and product information intended to serve as the basis for communication protocol standards that will exchange this information. (FY 2012)
  • Published OASIS Energy Interoperation (EI) standard. EI builds on the product information from EMIX and specifies an information model and messages that enable standard communication of: demand response events, electricity prices, market participation bids and offers, and load and generation predictions. (FY 2012)
  • Published NAESB REQ-18/WEG-19 Energy Usage Information Standard defining customer electrical energy usage information for the wholesale and retail electricity market, REQ-21 Energy Service Provider Interface (ESPI) defining a standard communication protocol to convey energy usage information, and REQ-22 Third Party Access to Smart Meter-Based Information. These standards form the basis for the Green Button Download My Data program which today is available to 19 million utility customers and is expected to expand to over 30 million customers in the coming year. (FY 2012 and FY 2013)
  • Green Button Software Development Kit. As described in a February 2013 NIST Techbeat article3, NIST has contributed tools to support Green Button implementations and testing and certification programs, as well as web tools ( to enable self-testing of the structure of Green Button files. Multiple utilities and vendors have committed to the Green Button initiative and are using NIST Green Button tools to support their implementations. With additional NIST technical support, EPA implemented an upgrade of its Home Energy Yardstick residential evaluation tool to be able to upload Green Button data. (FY 2013)


[3] “New Guide Will Allow Electric Utilities to Develop Green Button Web Tools,” NIST Tech Beat (February 6, 2013), available at