In the thick of summer, high temperatures can be unpleasant for more than just the commuters waiting outside for a train or bus. Heat waves can create a significant amount of stress to power grid systems, potentially forcing blackouts and brownouts or maxing out HVAC loads.

Demand response is a collective effort on the part of utilities companies, a third-party energy monitoring organization, and facility management to relieve stress on the electrical grid system when the grid approaches 5-7 percent full capacity.

To gain a deeper insight into the part facilities management plays in demand response, we spoke to Tim Danz, Chief Engineer of Able Services. According to Danz, on the day of the increased temperatures, facilities management can trim the margins of power by:

    • Precooling the building, a process in which a cooling mass is established early in the day
    • Reducing energy demand from other sources, especially nonessential sources
    • Encouraging tenant participation by reducing use of personal energy sources without disruption to productivity

The landscape of energy sourcing is shifting toward renewable sources, such as solar generation and wind farm energy. With these changes and consistently increasing summer temperatures throughout the U.S., it’s important to ensure that your building is ready to execute a demand response program when required.

In this blog post, we illustrate the benefits of a demand response program and list the three primary efforts. 

What are the benefits of a demand response program?

Demand response programs require the involvement of an energy-monitoring organization, utilities providers and facility management teams of commercial buildings.

In California, the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) is an objective third-party organization that monitors and controls the power flow of the grid. At a high level, California ISO: 

  • Monitors weather forecasting that predicts events that could stress the grid
  • Communicates with utilities providers via email, text and phone in the event that demand response is triggered, so the providers can then communicate the same message to facility management teams

This is done a day ahead of the predicted stress and gives facility management an opportunity to make preparations and enlist on-property user groups to participate in load reduction.

Facilities are motivated to participate in a demand response program in the following ways:

    • Corporate and environmental stewardship, or a desire and responsibility to help the immediate community and planet
    • Cost-saving incentives that benefit utilities spend by offsetting costs, reducing meters and slowing down energy consumption

With the right control of the response, you can ensure tenants are served properly so that the tenant experience is not negatively affected. 

Interested in learning more? Request a quote!

Which key traits comprise a demand response program?

The three primary elements of demand response are precooling, minimizing energy use for nonessential equipment and tenant participation. 


Precooling the building is the most significant element of the demand response program because cooling systems are a substantial source of power extraction. With technology and building automation systems, precooling establishes a cooling mass that is intended to sustain throughout the day. 

Here’s what the precooling process looks like:

    • On the day before the precooling day: Provide a clear line of communication with tenants informing them of the following day’s procedures, making them especially aware that spaces will be cooler earlier in the day.
    • Before the sun comes up: Globally reset building zones at lower temperatures before the external temperature increases.
    • Typically between 2-6 p.m.: The cooling credit that has been built recirculates through the ventilation system, creating a substantial reduction in cooling system use.
    • Throughout the demand-response day: The HVAC system can be brought up to 78 degrees, but it won’t reach that temperature because the system cuts out heat source from outside air. Doing this cuts down on motor use significantly. 

Reduction of Demand from Other Sources and Tenant Participation 

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce your building’s overall energy use, which means reducing energy demand from other sources, including nonessential lighting systems and ventilation for a period of time. 

Tenants can participate by reducing personal task lighting, using power strips that turn electronics off while not in use, and using electronics timers to cut off energy during certain hours. With enough time and resources, you can also install LED lights, which use about half the electricity that incandescent light bulbs use. 

Finally, communicating clearly with your tenants about why demand response is necessary helps them understand their positive contribution to the environment and the improvement of comfort in their spaces.  

Cover your bases with Able Services. 

When you partner with Able Services, our team of engineers can assist building management in their efforts to execute a demand response program that:

  • Reduces stress on the grid system 
  • Maintains tenant comfort
  • Avoids damage to building systems that can negatively impact your budget 
  • Reduces carbon emissions to help maintain more sustainable operations 

Ready to implement or revamp your demand response program? Request a quote today.

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