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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Scenario Analysis of Peak Demand Savings for Commercial Buildings with Thermal Mass in California


This paper reports on the potential impact of demand response (DR) strategies in commercial buildings in California based on the Demand Response Quick Assessment Tool (DRQAT), which uses EnergyPlus simulation prototypes for office and retail buildings. The study describes the potential impact of building size, thermal mass, climate, and DR strategies on demand savings in commercial buildings. Sensitivity analyses are performed to evaluate how these factors influence the demand shift and shed during the peak period. The whole-building peak demand of a commercial building with high thermal mass in a hot climate zone can be reduced by 30percent using an optimized demand response strategy. Results are summarized for various simulation scenarios designed to help owners and managers understand the potential savings for demand response deployment. Simulated demand savings under various scenarios were compared to field-measured data in numerous climate zones, allowing calibration of the prototype models. The simulation results are compared to the peak demand data from the Commercial End-Use Survey for commercial buildings in California. On the economic side, a set of electricity rates are used to evaluate the impact of the DR strategies on economic savings for different thermal mass and climate conditions. Our comparison of recent simulation to field test results provides an understanding of the DR potential in commercial buildings.

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