2020 year in review: PEER

Ishaq Sultan

Through PEER’s vision of a sustainable electrical infrastructure GBCI is helping lay the foundation for a clean energy future. As we have seen during COVID-19, and accompanying social and environmental emergencies, access to reliable, clean and affordable power is a fundamental component of quality of life. That is why we adopted PEER: to support global grid modernization efforts; to enable the power sector to comprehensively address electricity demand, distribution, resiliency and reliability; and to provide access to sustainable sources of power for everyone within our generation.

PEER offers strategies for alternatives that can prevent and prepare communities for worst-case scenarios in cost-effective ways, such as microgrids and local electricity generation. Only through consistent, clean power can communities be truly resilient.

Leadership in action: Supporting critical infrastructure

As the power industry continues to undergo significant transformation, PEER provides a framework to ensure grid resilience for critical infrastructure such as hospitals, transit systems, airports and utilities. To date, 30 projects have registered or certified to PEER. While this is a small number, PEER’s impact on consumers, the economy and our climate is substantial. Our 18 PEER certified projects provide reliable electricity to 7.7 million consumers, reduce energy use by 360 million kWh, reduce CO2 emissions by 21 million MT and save $37 million USD! These benefits will only grow with more projects certifying to PEER.

PEER guides and recognizes leaders who are building next generation electrical infrastructure designed to withstand and recover quickly from adverse events. Outstanding projects certified to PEER in 2020 include:

  • Delhi Metro’s Green line, which serves hundreds-of-thousands of commuters every day, has achieved PEER Gold. The organization has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainability with 3 lines certified to date and 6 more lines pursuing certification.
    “Keeping in view India’s commitment to mitigate climate change, DMRC is striving to increase utilization of renewable energy in its metro system. PEER provides a rating system, to benchmark and evaluate these efforts and motivates the participants to strive for improvement.” – Dr. Mangu Singh, managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, India
  • UT Austin campus, which serves 70,000 students, faculty and administrative staff with an in-house combined heat and power (CHP) plant that meets 100% of their electrical requirement, has been recertified as PEER Platinum.
    “The PEER certification process, administered by the global and independent GBCI organization, is a rigorous program that allows Utilities and Energy Management to be true to our goal of being among the best university utilities providers in the United States.” – Juan Ontiveros, P.E., Associate Vice President for Utilities and Energy Management, UT-Austin

Throughout the year, additional projects from Bengaluru to Riyadh to Harrisburg also registered for PEER and are working to assess their power system resilience and evaluate the environmental impact of their power consumption and pattern. A total of six new projects were registered this year, including the Bengaluru International Airport, which serves about 33 million passengers a year, and will utilize PEER to assess its grid system resilience and identify measures for improvement.

We also continued to work with the Pennsylvania Energy Programs Office to address resiliency, renewable integration and grid modernization by supporting projects within the state to pursue PEER assessment and certification. This initiative demonstrates the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) commitment to sustainable power systems as an essential piece of a healthy energy grid supporting buildings, campuses, cities and transit system operations. We were thrilled to see PEER referenced in PADEP’s Clean Energy Program Plan as one avenue to incorporate energy resilience into the state’s future programming.

PEER also provides the LEED for Cities and Communities program with guidance on improving city and community scale electrical infrastructure. We were excited to see cities such as Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Orlando and communities like Vivero Parque incorporate PEER strategies on grid resilience and power reliability into their operations.

Building capacity through education and professional recognition

The progress we have made would not be possible without the leadership and support of early adopters like Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and UT-Austin who are helping to elevate the importance of sustainable, reliable and resilient power systems. But we can’t stop here. Inspiring and enabling the energy sector to truly build a real 21st century infrastructure requires committed professionals to drive the charge. A continued focus of our efforts has been to build a community of leaders equipped to apply the PEER rating system and support global grid modernization efforts at a project level. 2020 efforts included:

As a result of these efforts, GBCI has trained more than one-thousand students and emerging professionals on PEER and how it can help address the power sector challenges that are present across the globe.

Leading with performance

Understanding the need for tools to support grid modernization efforts, we have developed new toolkits and resources to support the entire performance lifecycle of a project. Through PEER Precertification and Recertification, projects can now demonstrate leadership from design, planning, implementation, to operations and ongoing maintenance of a truly reliable and sustainable power grid.

PEER can also be used in tandem with LEED. To support projects seeking to leverage the synergies between these complementary programs, we also published a crosswalk between PEER and LEED detailing how the rating systems work hand in hand.

Throughout 2020, we worked with a variety of energy stakeholders to gather data, strategies and clarifications to ensure that PEER continues to transform the power sector as LEED transformed the building sector, bringing greater resilience and reliability to the projects it impacts. The results of this hard work is evident in the 2020 Stakeholder report.

Promoting health, hygiene and safety in response to COVID-19

In response to the pandemic, we created PEER Safety First Pilot Credits to ensure that proper health, hygiene and safety measures are followed by energy professionals, operators and employee during re-occupancy. The credit encourages projects to undertake a NEC Electrical Inspection to identify any electrical issues and reduce the potential for hazards or equipment damage, and safely disinfect common touch points on electrical systems as per the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) instructions using specific cleaning protocols for equipment.

Scaling our collective impact

Projects certified to PEER in 2020 made a positive impact in a tumultuous year:

  • 42 jobs created in construction and operation of renewable energy systems
  • 27 kilotons of carbon emission mitigated through implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • 33 GWh of electricity saved through measures taken towards energy conservation and demonstration of advanced technologies.

This demonstrates the significant potential of wide scale application of the PEER program. Access to reliable and resilient infrastructure is important for our communities in the best of times – and even more so in times of crises, such as natural disaster, pandemic or other unplanned extreme events.

The Biden administration has emphasized the critical need to build a “modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clear energy future.” We couldn’t agree more, and through PEER, will continue working tirelessly to drive environmental, economic and social transformation in the power sector.

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