ASHRAE, NEMA Partner on Smart Grid Model Standard

We may not be traveling in flying cars or have talking robot maids as shown in the television cartoon “The Jetsons,” but commercial, institutional, and industrial facilities are about to get a lot “smarter” when it comes to electrical use. Under a national Smart Grid effort, ASHRAE and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) are jointly developing a standard that would provide a common basis for electrical energy consumers to describe, manage, and communicate about electrical energy consumptions and forecasts. A kickoff meeting to begin work on the proposed standard is taking place August 30-31 at ASHRAE Headquarters in Atlanta.

ASHRAE/NEMA Standard 201P, Facility Smart Grid Information Model, will define an object-oriented information model to enable appliances and control systems in homes, buildings, and industrial facilities to manage electrical loads and generation sources in response to communication with a “smart” electrical grid and to communicate information about those electrical loads to utility and other electrical service providers.

“Smart grids lead to smart meters lead to smart systems,” ASRHAE President Lynn G. Bellenger, P.E., said. “As the smart grid adjusts to suit load distribution and maintain power quality and reliability, one of the steps will be to communicate with building metering systems which, in turn, will communicate with building systems and equipment. This ties into demand response control to reduce peak demand. One day in the future, we likely will have real-time pricing with dramatic differences in power costs dependent upon the time of day or grid load.”

“NEMA and the members of their smart grid and high-performance buildings councils see the creation of this standard as a strategic element in driving development of a nation-wide smart electrical grid while increasing energy efficiency, occupant productivity and cost-effectiveness in safe secure buildings,” Jim Lewis, manager, High Performance Buildings, NEMA, said.

The standard is part of ASHRAE’s supporting efforts for the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a public-private partnership initiated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to speed development of interoperability and cyber security standards for a nationwide smart electric power grid.

The proposed ASHRAE/NEMA standard will coordinate with work by the North American Energy Standards Board to develop a basic energy usage data model standard and create a facilities data model that provides additional energy usage data elements for commercial and industrial buildings. This includes lighting, heating, HVAC and other electrical loads.


  1. As the stakeholders in the development of the Smart Grid converge on standards, we can expect to see the various sectors, such as utilities, transmission and distribution providers, and OEMs, establish positions to maximize their competitive advantage and opportunities for profit. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as the ultimate consumers of electric power are served well. That will happen if the consumers’ choice and control over consumption are preserved and enhanced. In this environment, the collaboration of ASHRAE and NEMA is good news for consumers. Standards for managing energy consumption across multiple product types and manufacturers will allow consumers to choose on the basis of cost, features, and performance, rather than compatibility with proprietary management systems. This initiative will establish a position for the needs of the consumer in parallel with the development of standards for the supply side.

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