Americans spend 87% of our time indoors. Each year, energy used in buildings costs us nearly as much as the U.S. military budget. Our buildings use 40% of our energy, and emit more carbon than the combined economies of Japan, France, and the U.K. Better building controls could improve comfort, save money, and reduce emissions.
Improving building controls is also a crucial step toward modernizing our power grid, since buildings consume 72% of U.S. electricity. Today’s power system operators balance the grid by controlling generators to match demand. As we integrate more wind and solar power, however, we lose supply-side flexibility. Thankfully, loads like air conditioners, refrigerators, water heaters, and electric cars are potentially flexible. In aggregate, these loads are an enormous, untapped resource. Better building controls could unlock this resource, enabling a grid where demand is coordinated to match random, renewable generation.