Commercial buildings have become increasingly sophisticated in their operations with the adoption of new automation technologies and building management systems. As building owners and operators look for ways to better utilize new tools and equipment in order to achieve greater efficiencies, their interest in demand response (DR) programs is also growing. According to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, the number of commercial facilities participating in DR programs worldwide will rise from fewer than 600,000 in 2012 to more than 1.4 million sites by 2018.

“Although DR programs are offered to a broad range of customers, the commercial sector offers a significant opportunity for growth in the DR market,” says senior research analyst Marianne Hedin. “With a huge number of buildings and facilities accounting for a substantial amount of electricity consumption, the commercial sector represents a major underserved market.”

The increasing use of automated DR (ADR) and open standards-based communications capabilities is enabling utilities, grid operators, and curtailment service providers (CSPs) to not only offer DR to a much broader end user market, but also offer more sophisticated forms of DR programs, such as dynamic pricing and ancillary services, according to the report. The increasing deployment of smart metering installations, which are expected to pick up in the small and medium business (SMB) market segment, will make it considerably easier for businesses and institutions to participate in the economic DR market, where they can take advantage of price-responsive DR programs to obtain reduced rate structures.