Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago Unveils Plans for Nation's First Commercial Office Building Smart Grid

Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago Unveils Plans for Nation's First Commercial Office Building Smart Grid

--Seeks $92.7 Million in Federal Stimulus Funds under ARRA--

CHICAGO, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago) is aiming to develop the first commercial office building smart grid program in the United States. The organization filed an application to fund half of the program with $92.7 million in matching funds from the U.S. Department of Energy's Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, which was formed under the recently passed American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The total cost of BOMA/Chicago's smart grid program is estimated at $185.4 million.

The BOMA/Chicago program will deliver a utility-scale, clean, virtual generator through implementation of smart grid technology in more than 260 commercial buildings in downtown Chicago. BOMA/Chicago represents more than 80 percent of the square footage and an estimated 1,000 megawatts of peak demand in the city's central business district. The virtual generator could provide as much as 200 megawatts of demand response capability, lowering costs and avoiding the need to construct expensive new generation plants.

The program calls for upgrading the buildings' electric metering infrastructure with smart meters that will communicate with a BOMA/Chicago-run Network Operating Center (NOC) in real time. The NOC will analyze electricity demand in light of grid conditions and electricity market prices, then send suggested response strategies back to the buildings for speedy implementation.

Effective participation in the program will require significant building-level upgrades such as installation of variable speed motors, digital controls and new or upgraded building automation systems. These investments will enable the buildings to respond more effectively to grid conditions and market signals with little or no impact on tenant comfort. Through the installation and management of these systems, the program is estimated to create or retain 2,037 jobs.

BOMA/Chicago will help participating buildings by cutting the cost of those upgrade investments in half through the use of matching federal stimulus funds. The organization will also provide unique performance contract options for financing the balance through revenues generated from the buildings' demand response activities.

"In the past, nearly all discussion of demand response and smart grid technology has centered on the utilities delivering grid intelligence. For the first time, our program will demonstrate that demand side resources, such as our commercial buildings, can provide operating reserves, frequency regulation and capacity in wholesale grid markets," said Michael Cornicelli, executive vice president of BOMA/Chicago. "Not only will our program help our members transform their electricity usage and spend, but the smart grid improvements will benefit all energy consumers and society as a whole by lowering energy costs and reducing carbon emissions."

BOMA/Chicago's smart grid program will enable commercial buildings to compete in markets formerly dominated by large central station generators and simultaneously reduce carbon emissions by approximately 300 million pounds annually. Through smarter utilization of energy resources, the program will reduce the need to build new power plants and take inefficient generation permanently offline.

As the premier trade association for the commercial real estate industry in Chicago, BOMA/Chicago is in a unique position to facilitate its members' efforts. Just as importantly, BOMA/Chicago is affiliated with 91 other local associations in every major city in North America through BOMA International. Those affiliations present an unparalleled opportunity to promote replication of the BOMA/Chicago program in other major markets.

"A primary benefit of our plan is that it will provide a blueprint for how other cities, regions and states can deploy demand response technologies to transform their own markets," said Cornicelli. "Colleagues from across the country are ready to enthusiastically explore this approach should it prove effective in Chicago. This affirms our confidence that our program would be a thoughtful and constructive use of federal stimulus money, providing more bang for the buck than any other program we have seen."

BOMA/Chicago's program is supported by the City of Chicago, Commonwealth Edison Company, PJM Interconnection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris, Illinois Representative Danny Davis, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, BOMA International and BOMA San Francisco.

To implement the program, BOMA/Chicago will leverage the expertise of several smart grid experts, energy service companies and engineering firms. Metropolitan Energy, LLC will design, construct and implement the NOC to support the program's day-to-day operations and act as the curtailment service provider for participants. Schneider Electric will conduct smart grid technical assessments at participating buildings and serve as their contractor for design, plans and specifications, project scheduling, equipment procurement, construction management, start-up, punch-list development and final acceptance inspection. Kenny Construction Company will act as program manager and provide reporting to the funding agency.

About BOMA/Chicago

Founded in 1902 and the oldest BOMA association in the world, BOMA/Chicago represents the interests of the people and companies that own, operate, manage and service Chicago's commercial buildings. BOMA/Chicago members account for over 80 percent of downtown's total rentable building area and nearly 90 percent of rentable space in Class A buildings downtown. These valuable assets are the core of one of the world's greatest business districts. By advocating the interests of the owners of these valuable assets, BOMA/Chicago also supports the businesses that are housed in them--businesses that require quality office space and quality service.

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