Chances are you have probably heard the term smart grid. But have you considered what the smart grid means for construction, maintenance, and operations of facilities? The smart grid aims to use energy in a more efficient manner, and it’s becoming more common.

In-Stat Research, www.instat.com, Port Washington, N.Y., says by 2016 more than 75% of all U.S. electric meters will be converted to smart meters. Additionally, once these smart meters are deployed, it will allow other technologies to take hold faster such as building and home automation.

For facility owners and operators, this could be a good time to consider implementing software to manage building energy consumption in relation to the grid.

For example, the University of Texas at Arlington, www.uta.edu, Arlington, Texas, recently adopted new software to automatically reduce energy use during emergency events on the Texas electric grid and is participating in a demand-response program.

The ERCOT (Energy Reliability Council of Texas), www.ercot.com, Austin, Texas, has an ERS (Emergency Response Service) program that provides incentives for owners that can minimize the load on the state’s electric grid. In order to participate in this program, the University of Texas at Arlington has implemented software from Vedero Software, www.vederosoft.com, Plano, Texas.

“Automating demand response through Vedero Software allowed us to confidently commit to shedding a significant amount of electrical load quickly while ensuring that research buildings remained unaffected and students and faculty remained comfortable,” says John Hall, vice president for administration and campus operations, University of Texas at Arlington.

By implementing the technology, the university is helping to improve the reliability of the grid during power shortages, providing immediate relief to the grid as a clean alternative to running generators, and reducing the need for more power plants.

Throughout the past five years, the university has added 1.2 million sq.ft. through the construction or renovation of more than a dozen buildings.

Education construction projects have seen a bit of growth in recent months. But the University of Texas at Arlington is taking a unique approach to reducing energy consumption on the grid through the use of software.