IDC Energy Insights has announced the availability of a new report, Methods and Practices: Smart Buildings and the Smart Grid – Strategy for an Integrated Future, (Document #EI235547). The report highlights the significant market opportunity for building owners, utilities, and vendors as they develop smart buildings that effectively communicate and interact with the smart grid. The report also outlines the "next practices" necessary to make the vision of interoperability a reality. By understanding how different technologies and frameworks can support more coordinated and collaborative development of smart buildings and the smart grid, IDC Energy Insights finds building owners, utilities and vendors can generate economic gains, achieve business goals and establish grid stability.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Building management decision makers, technology vendors, and electric utilities all have a stake in developing interoperability between smart buildings and the smart grid, yet few have taken advantage of the market opportunity to accelerate and expand the deployment of interconnected smart buildings.
  • The industry can learn from early adopters of both smart building and smart grid technologies to develop a framework of "next practices" that can foster collaboration between stakeholders and promote integration. This future model is important because it represents significant economic benefits for building owners, market growth for vendors, and new stability and reliability resources for electric utilities.
  • Despite the significant market opportunity, in the near term (1–3 years), smart buildings and the smart grid will continue to develop independently. However, the two will yield to interdependence through the impact of technology infrastructure development and maturity, regulations, customer segmentation insights, and distributed energy resource availability.

The report also found that vendors and utilities must find common ground in the process of adopting technologies and business practices. Utilities in particular need to more effectively engage commercial customers for participation in smart grid initiatives. In turn, vendors need to better support customer needs and improve investment economics by identifying ways to coordinate with electric utilities. This evolution in both business practices and technology infrastructure is necessary to realize the benefits associated with smart buildings and the smart grid. As such, a transformation in customer engagement models as well as in technology utilization and deployment will be required.

In addition, IDC Energy Insights found that while long term integration will be measurable, broad coordination between smart buildings and the smart grid will remain elusive over the next five years. Technology infrastructure maturity and smart building market development will be a matter of individual utility and state and local regulatory efforts.