Today’s Building Designs Must Incorporate Demand Response and Energy Harvesting

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This is the 5th article in a six-part editorial series which explains how thermal energy storage along with demand response and energy harvesting building design principles can make your next commercial build more comfortable and energy efficient. Best of all, these building principles cost no more than conventional construction. This editorial series is sponsored by Termobuild.

Today’s buildings mandates place tremendous pressure on architects, engineers and project managers, especially given current cost constraints. Buildings must be more than functional, comfortable, safe and cost effective. Society also expects them to further its larger energy and environmental goals. Companies like Termobuild gives building owners and architects the tools they need to meet society’s expectations with its unique smart floor and thermal energy storage.

Demand response and energy harvesting in a supercharged building

The power grid is much like a highway that suffers from peak congestion. A hot summer afternoon is rush hour; at night the traffic is light. Utilities increasingly reflect this supply/demand equation in their rates, charging more during peak hours and less off peak. Many utilities and grid operators also offer demand response programs that give financial incentives to energy users who agree to ramp down power use when the grid is under strain. In North America, this tends to occur when air conditioners operate full-tilt on hot days.


There is very good economic reason for discouraging use of power during peak periods. Utilities and grid operators must ensure that enough electric supply is always available. No one wants to suddenly experience a blackout on a hot summer afternoon. So enough power plants must be built to serve the peak, even if those plants only operate for a few, very hot or very cold days per year. A plant that sits idle most of the year represents a very poor return on investment; it drives up everybody’s electric rates. Utilities and grid operators, therefore, work hard to find ways to reduce peak demand and build fewer power plants.

Supercharged buildings naturally play to this grid need. Their smart floors act much like rechargeable batteries that smooth the grid’s peaks and valleys and virtually expand power generating capacity.

During hot afternoons, when most buildings rely heavily on air conditioning, a supercharged building is radiating natural coolness from its concrete floors and walls. With little need for electrically powered air conditioning, the building takes strain off the grid at just the right time. Meanwhile, at night when power supply is plentiful, the building supercharges its concrete, consuming energy by running its fans, ventilation system, and if needed, air conditioning.

So in this way, supercharged buildings act as a highly economic form of virtual distributed energy. The system not only lowers utility costs for the building owner, but also for everyone by reducing the need for new power plants. This creates triple bottom line benefits (social, economic and environmental).

But the benefits of Termobuild are also easier on the environment which will be the subject of next week’s article. If you prefer you can download the the full whitepaper “The Supercharged Building.”

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