December 28, 2021

Inspecting the Building of the Future

Building inspectors can watch this 5-minute video for an introduction to the grid-interactive efficient building (GEB).

As demand increases for efficient, resilient, and durable buildings, construction materials and technologies are rapidly evolving. Even external technologies that interact with buildings are changing: For example, did you know that energy stored in an electric vehicle can be fed back into the grid to help supply energy at times of peak demand? 

As a building inspector, keeping up-to-date on emerging trends and technologies can help you stay ahead of the curve. Watch this 5-minute video for an introduction to the grid-interactive efficient building (GEB). See the free resources below to start learning today about the combinations of technologies and capabilities of GEBs. You will be inspecting these buildings and technologies before you know it!

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to view a full transcript of the video.

Additional Resources

IREC provides free training for code officials on solar PV and energy storage inspection. Visit CleanEnergyTraining.org to learn more! Below are additional resources that may be helpful for inspectors.

GEB Basics

This two-page fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Energy concisely describes the characteristics of a GEB and the benefits to building occupants and owners.

Courses & Webinars

U.S. Department of Energy Webinar

Buildings, the Final Frontier: Advanced Technology and the Role of Building Codes (75 mins)

UL Webinars

UL9540 for the Safety of Energy Storage Systems (45 mins)

EV Charging: Powering the Future of Transportation (30 mins)

Why Functional Safety Matters in Renewable Energy Applications (45 mins)

Slipstream Webinars

Smart(er) Thermostats PLUS a Bonus: HVAC Service via Bluetooth & the Internet

Building Control Strategies

The Second Lighting Revolution: Networked Lighting Controls

Get Inside the Building Automation System: Your Building’s Brain

Southface Institute Courses

Basics of Building Science

Energy Efficiency Lighting for Construction Professionals: Assessing Lighting for Energy Code Compliance

Video Transcript: Inspecting the Building of the Future

Ever heard the expression, the future is now? Maybe you are starting to see permit applications for technologies and building products you hadn’t heard of. Consumers are increasingly adopting smart technologies and other distributed energy resources (DERs), often because of the convenience, additional control, and safety features of the technologies. Code officials will be inspecting the buildings of the future sooner than they think.

If you haven’t already heard, GEB is the term for grid-interactive efficient buildings. There is no label for buildings that are distinctly GEB. Rather, it is a spectrum of combinations of technologies and capabilities that buildings can have. GEBs can remake buildings into a major new clean and flexible energy resource. GEBs combine energy efficiency and demand flexibility with smart technologies and communications to inexpensively deliver greater affordability, comfort, productivity, renewables integration, and high performance to America’s homes and commercial buildings.

The U.S. is on the road to dynamic, smart, and integrated building systems. Let’s break down the main terms used with GEBs:

  • Efficient. GEBs can provide similar or improved energy efficient building services relative to the existing level of service provided. Energy efficiency improvements reduce energy usage, but can also improve comfort and indoor air quality, as well as building durability through reduced moisture.
  • Connected. GEBs enable two-way communication between technologies, the grid, and occupants for responding to time-dependent grid needs.
  • Smart. GEBs support advanced control for buildings and community energy systems. These controls can optimize the operations of multiple devices over time. Smart thermostats sense the temperature conditions inside a building and control the attached HVAC equipment to maintain the target conditions to ensure thermal comfort.
  • Flexible. GEBs can provide dynamic load control to support the electric grid, including shedding, shifting, and modulating loads that can provide voltage regulation.

We are seeing a rapid increase in the installation of these technologies, and here’s why. GEBs can:

  • Reduce energy costs, especially in areas with time-of-use rates.
  • Maintain grid stability and reduce the risk of losing power.
  • Allow a building with on-site renewable energy generation and energy storage to operate during a power outage.

How will GEBs and new building electrification and greenhouse gas targets impact the inspection community? Inspections are already on the rise for solar PV and energy storage systems that allow the building to better regulate energy production and use throughout the day. Code officials are likely to see new building materials as well as smart, connected technologies.

Since safety is at the heart of a code official’s work, it’s reassuring to know that safety testing and certification for emerging technologies are happening. Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory certificates provide clear evidence that the electrical and electronic products comply with the required standards of the U.S. market.

A grid-interactive efficient building can offer a host of services that cut costs, eliminate waste, and improve grid operations. These benefits to building owners, consumers, and utilities will drive the market for new technologies.

Along with technologies, building energy codes will continue to evolve. Codes are updated each cycle to reflect new technology changes like GEBs. Code officials will want to stay current with both. How?

Start by viewing a free online course to learn more about one or more technologies. Visit cleanenergytraining.org to learn more. Let us know what you want to learn more about as distributed energy resources and grid-interactive efficient building technologies become more common.


This material was developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). It is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Award Number DE-EE0009455 (“EMPOWERED”). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the United States Government.