CIEE Electric Grid Director Dr. Alexandra “Sascha” von Meier recently spoke at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)’s inaugural Smart Building Summit. Part of the “Optimizing Smart Buildings and the Grid” panel, von Meier was joined by Marin Clean Energy director Alice Havenar-Daughton; Mynt Systems chief development officer Rob Hymes; Smarter Grid Solutions senior business development engineer Tim McDuffie; and moderator Hugh Lindsay, strategy director and global segment architect of real estate at Schneider Electric.
The panelists discussed the role of smart building technologies in advancing decarbonization and the challenges of integrating renewable energy resources with the electric grid. According to von Meier, cultivating trust for both owners and utilities is a key issue. Emphasizing the origins of the national grid, she said: “Electrifying farms was not done because it was cost-effective. … We reached out because we had an ethical and ideological conviction that the right thing to do was to have everyone have equal access. … The key philosophical challenge as we move forward with smart grids … is how do we recapture that sense of common mission?” Von Meier acknowledged the financial hurdles of implementing smart technologies but noted that “we all have a common interest in having a clean, decarbonized grid and one that works—and that when it doesn’t work, it fails gracefully, and we can recover effectively.”