Introduction to PEER: Energy Efficiency and Environment
Electricity generation is responsible for 40% of the nation’s man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the EPA. It is also responsible for 23% of the nation’s nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions, and 67% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide emissions (SO2). The bulk of input energy—approximately 65%—is lost in the electricity generation, delivery, and use. Efficiencies can be improved across all areas of the system, but especially in generation, to realize both environmental and financial benefits.
While customers can utilize rating systems like LEED to evaluate the efficiency and environmental performance of their buildings, these statistics also highlight a specific need to evaluate the electricity that is supplied to these buildings. Establishing a common efficiency metric for electricity supply will provide a means for assessing the performance outcome of proposed generation and delivery improvements.
Tips from the energy professionals: While electricity suppliers can’t tell what specific electrons power a certain building, customers can and should ask suppliers to disclose the performance of the generators putting electricity onto the grid on the customer’s behalf.
Some argue that consumers cannot impact their electricity supply performance because suppliers or generators put electricity into a big pool, and customers simply siphon a blended mix of electricity from this pool. The truth, however, is that generators must have a customer contract to put power onto the grid on behalf of the customer. Without a contract, the generators sit idle.
Energy Efficiency and Environment
PEER, which modeled after USGBC's LEED program for buildings, provides energy professionals with a comprehensive understanding of how to define, assess, and specify sustainable power to buildings.
PEER takes a comprehensive look at power system performance by setting standards and evaluating performance across four outcome categories.
- Energy Efficiency and Environment
- Reliability and Resiliency
- Operational Effectiveness
- Customer Contribution
The PEER Energy efficiency and environment category assesses of the contracted electricity being delivered to the customer and provides a nutrition label of sorts that quantifies the “healthiness” of electricity. Empowered with this information, customers can procure a custom mix of generation sources, install cleaner local generation, or reshape their load profile to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of their electricity supply. Providing responsible and cost effective electricity can serve as a competitive advantage for project sites, attract new residents and businesses and help keep existing customers satisfied.
The PEER Energy Efficiency and Environment category looks at power supply energy efficiency, air emissions and resource use. Metrics include source energy intensity; CO2, NOx, and SO2 intensity; water consumption and solid waste recycling; purchased renewable energy certificates; and capabilities for district energy, cogeneration and local generation. The PEER approach of looking at CO2, NOx, and SO2 emissions specifically, provides a means for estimating the overall emissions impact of generating electricity using a small number of key metrics.