“How do buildings play a role in decarbonizing the grid and how does the grid talk back?”

When a building is operational, it has a choice of both how to manage its electricity usage and where to obtain that electricity. The electricity can be site generated, obtained from on-site energy storage and obtained from the electric grid. In order to advance reductions in carbon emissions, the building needs to have the ability to make both a carbon and a value judgement in these decisions. The amount of carbon in a central electric grid changes on a minute by minute basis, as does the cost to provide that electricity. Buildings that respond to grid conditions and costs can play an increasingly key role in optimizing building operations and the grid for rapid and cost effective decarbonization without compromising building or occupant service quality. The ASHRAE Task Force on Building Decarbonization (TFBD) Working Group on the Grid-Building Intersection (WGGBI) recognizes buildings as grid assets and building owners and occupants as active partners to grid operators.


Katherine Hammack is an energy and environmental consultant who works with organizations such as Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI), an organization that provides third-party credentialing and verification for several rating systems relating to the built environment. She focusses on enhancing resilience, sustainability, and modernization of power infrastructure through the PEER rating system, climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation strategies. Formerly an Executive Director at EY, she advised Government and Public Services clients on performance improvements. With over 35 years of experience in energy, sustainability and infrastructure operations she worked in the strategic and technical aspects of smart cities, resilience and energy/water security. From 2010 to 2017 she was the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment under President Barak Obama. In that capacity, she had responsibility for policy development, program oversight, outreach, and coordination of a wide variety of Army activities overseeing the Army’s installations. Under her leadership, the Army instituted a net zero program for energy, water and waste. This program focused on efficient and effective resource management, on Army bases, to increase resilience and reduce operating costs. Over her long and distinguished career, she has worked for several electric utilities and has had many roles with Carrier Air Conditioning. In ASHRAE she has served on numerous committees including on the ASHRAE Board as a Director at Large. Currently she chairs ASHRAE Standard 189.1 – Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings, which is the basis for the International Green Construction Code. She also leads the ASHRAE Decarbonization Task Force Working Group on Grid-Building Intersection. This Working Group provides guidance about using secure building-grid communication systems to enable integration of low-carbon distributed energy resources and more. Hon Hammack has received numerous U.S. military decorations as well as commendations from industry associations. She an ASHRAE Fellow; has twice been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award (2015, 2017); the Silver Order of the De Fleury Medal from the Army Engineer Association; American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers Distinguished Service Award 2014 recognition for serving faithfully and with distinction. Katherine is a graduate of Oregon State University where she received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Her MBA was awarded from the University of Hartford. She is a founding member of the USGBC and serves on the boards of Slipstream and MK Advisors.