Clean Energy and Transactive Campus

Demand-side transactive controls at scale


The Clean Energy and Transactive Campus project (CETC) is a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)-led, pioneering partnership that realizes opportunities at the buildings–grid nexus for improved reliability, consumer benefits, and energy efficiency. The project, launched in 2016, was the first of its kind to test demand-side transactive controls at a scale involving multiple commercial buildings and devices.

The PNNL-developed distributed sensing and control platform VOLTTRON™, now an open-source project within the Eclipse Foundation, serves as CETC’s cornerstone technology. PNNL researchers combine VOLTTRON™ with CETC-developed methods to deliver improved building energy management and grid reliability. The methods are deployed and tested in PNNL buildings.

CETC key outcomes

The project has delivered several technology accomplishments:

  • Development of Intelligent Load Control (ILC) for automatic, smart adjustment of building energy use. The technology employs PNNL-developed algorithms to manage and coordinate heating and cooling, lights, and other building functions to achieve a desired consumption target. Researchers at PNNL continue to develop and deploy ILC capabilities.
  • Advancement of Transactive Control and Coordination (TCC) of Building Energy Loads concepts to create energy markets within building zones and even within individual smart devices. For example, TCC’s automated, real-time process enables a building’s air handling system to obtain energy at a certain cost and then sell its product—cool air—to various zones within a building. The zones electronically submit "bids" informed by price and desired occupant comfort levels. TCC deployment and testing continue.
  • Integration of Distributed Renewable Energy Resources is a method that allows building devices to track on-site power generation, analyze the data, and quickly adjust power consumption. The objective is to rapidly balance electricity use to ease fluctuations in the power grid.
  • Testing of Passive Diagnostics and Automated Re-tuning for Building Efficiency to identify building equipment issues, correct problems, and improve building operations and energy efficiency. Researchers studied the effectiveness of an automated diagnostics technology that detects operational issues. The researchers also analyzed methods that tune building systems for better performance. The results informed efforts to scale diagnostic approaches for broader use.

The multi-year CETC effort was initially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Washington State's Clean Energy Fund and included the University of Washington and Washington State University. The University of Toledo later joined the project.

DOE’s Building Technologies Office continues to support CETC activities, which are advancing research, development, and demonstration of transactive controls for energy management.

View CETC brochure.