Buildings have the highest peak load contribution in California, with the peak load growing faster than the base load. Most large commercial buildings have energy management systems that have been used since the 1980s to reduce electrical peak demands. DRRC's development of automated demand response protocols and later, OpenADR, expanded the ability for facilities to use their existing energy management systems to participate in utility-based demand response programs.
The DRRC's commercial buildings research focuses on both building technologies and control strategies to change load shapes. Previous studies of peak load management in commercial buildings focused on demand control strategies such as demand limiting, thermal storage and daylighting. Initially concentrating on peak load reduction in commercial buildings on hot summer afternoons, the DRRC has grown this research towards new applications in new customer segments for flexible loads with varying response times and durations that can be dynamically controlled any time and any day.