Energy storage systems can support sustainability initiatives and provide energy cost reduction and resiliency solutions. Particular benefits include: providing a source of backup power; peak shaving and load shifting for participation in incentivized utility programs; and spurring adoptions of community solar program initiatives and grid-independency. These potentials yielded a new record number of 2,156 megawatt-hours of new energy storage systems deployed in Q4 2020 – an increase of 182% from Q3 2020. For most utility customers, the cost of electricity changes depending on the time of day. In most cases, electricity is most expensive during the evening when solar systems are not producing energy. Time-of-use offsetting allows you to access electricity harvested from solar sources during the day (and stored in batteries) to avoid paying premiums for grid electricity during these expensive “peak” hours. In the building industry, storage combined with onsite renewable energy production also assists project teams seeking to achieve net zero energy and regenerative results on projects.

States and utilities are offering incentives for installing battery storage. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) offers rebates for installing energy storage technology at both residential and nonresidential facilities. Participation criteria under this program include that proposed systems meet the requirements for battery storage compliance credit(s) available in the performance standards set forth in Building Energy Efficiency Standards, Title 24, Part 6, Sections 150.1(b) as a standalone system, or in combination with an onsite photovoltaic system.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) also rewards projects for utilizing storage with onsite renewables for projects aiming at LEED certification. Storage contributes towards the following Credits:

LEEDv4.1 (BD+C NC, Pilot Credit): Passive Survivability and Back-up Power During Disruptions. Demonstrate that adequate emergency power will be available to provide for critical loads that have been identified by the design team as being necessary for the building. *This can be done by (1) using backup battery storage to maintain thermally safe building conditions during a power outage that lasts four consecutive 24-hour days during peak summertime and wintertime conditions of a typical meteorological year; OR (2) providing electricity for at least 3 or more of the following:

  • Electrical components of fuel-fired heating systems
  • Operation of a fan sufficient to provide emergency cooling if mechanical AC equipment cannot operate
  • Operation of water pumps to supply potable water
  • Emergency lighting
  • Functional electrical receptacles
  • Operation of cable modem and wireless router equipment for online access
  • Operation of elevators

LEEDv4 (BD+C): Optimized Energy Performance to achieve increasing levels of energy performance beyond the prerequisite standard to reduce environmental and economic harms associated with excessive energy use.

Onsite electrical generation (with or without storage) does not contribute towards the Demand Response credit in LEED BD+C NC. However, the strategy does align with net zero building energy performance broadly. It also assists with achieving this goal in other third party rating systems such LEED Zero Energy, which recognizes buildings that achieve a source energy use balance of zero over a period of 12 months, and the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Energy Certification.

Integrated solar and storage solutions enhance a developer’s ability to more accurately quantify building energy costs and provide a more reliable premise for estimating asset ROI valuations. Markets have shifted towards lithium based products, which offer benefits such as greater depths of discharge, increased cycle life, and are less prone to thermal runaway. Not all lithium products are equal, however, so developers should purchase from reputable manufacturers, cross-compare lithium battery technologies and research the environmental and social cost associated with production.

Calculating electrical demand is critical to correctly sizing a battery storage system. VCA’s energy management auditors work directly with project engineers to assess building electrical loads, and can assist in analyzing onsite renewable energy options (such as solar) to augment storage solutions. We can assist with identifying available jurisdictional and utility incentives and rebates, while stewarding projects through third party certification so that developers capture the competitive advantage and marketable value of their investment.

For more information, contact Moe Fakih below.

Contributing Writer: Rudy De La O, Project Manager, LEED AP BD+C

Moe Fakih, Principal
VCA Green

Citations and References: