MEP CA AB 1103

2017 in Review: Microgrids and Blockchain

MEP Energy Star Certificationr In order to move forward with purpose one must be aware of the path they have taken to get to where they are. Many of us are optimistic for the New Year, and have our personal resolutions that we are working toward to make 2018 prosperous and healthy. In our personal lives we take stock of our past and make goals for the future. Similar to the individual scale we need to be coming together as a nation and a global community to prepare for a 2018 that maximizes sustainability and profitability by evaluating what emerging trends and exciting new technologies 2017 brought us. It is equally vital that we make note of the warning signs last year gave us, and course correct where necessary or beneficial. These conversations will enable us to optimize the future of both our planet and our civilization.


One point that 2017 made painfully clear was the dire need for the renovation of our nation's infrastructure. Hurricane season this year dramatically highlighted this point with Hurricane Harvey bringing widespread flooding to Houston, Texas and Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastating the East Coast and Caribbean islands. According to Bloomberg, 2017 brought the most expensive U.S. Hurricane season ever with an estimated $202.6 Billion in damages. While natural disasters are inevitable and largely unpredictable there are many ways we can prepare for them. In fact, it is possible that existing under-utilized technologies could have potentially made the impact of these Hurricanes a lot less devastating.

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico it completely wiped out the island's power. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy's most recent update states that 36.5% of customers are still without power months later. How could a singular event completely eliminate a utility service for an entire island? The answer lies in the fact that Puerto Rico's (and the vast majority of the United States') electric grid is centralized. This creates the potential for mass blackouts that affect enormous swaths of utility customers.

Microgrids are a new technology that diminishes the possibility of a city-wide or island-wide blackout. The Department of Energy describes the technology as "a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously." With Puerto Rico's energy infrastructure essentially a blank slate, many are looking to microgrids as a promising option to prevent a similar devastating loss of power from occurring in the future. It is a matter of not having all your eggs in one basket. Since microgrids are able to operate autonomously, localized grids that are not destroyed during any future hurricanes would be able to provide power to those served from that location. This means that unless every single individual station were destroyed by a future hurricane there would be many areas on the island that would still have power service after the hurricane passes, making the current crisis of having to restore power to an entire island obsolete.

The rules surrounding microgrids and how they are paid for and operate are still being hashed out, but the technology has gained proponents and relevancy during 2017 and you can expect to hear more about microgrids in the coming years. You can find more on microgrids in our previous blog 'The Future of Utilities' from June 2016.


Your food is labeled as locally sourced, but how can you be sure that is true? From farm to grocery store there are often a shocking number of middlemen. Is there a 100% certainty that your food came from where it is purported to have? The answer is no, but that may be about to change.

Blockchain is a new tracking system that acts as a nearly unalterable cyber ledger. Advocates claim it is poised to fundamentally change the way we monitor transactions and supply chains. Blockchain is the technology that supports a certain cryptocurrency you may have heard of called bitcoin. If proponents have their way though it will be applied to a whole lot more than just that.

Blockchain can be utilized in many different areas of industry and life, but the core concept is fairly simple. In the system each transaction (be it a financial exchange or a product changing hands) is recorded as a "block". Each block contains a time stamp with transaction data and is encrypted, so once recorded it cannot be retroactively altered. As the item or resource being tracked moves, blocks are added to the chain with a full record of every event from its source to its destination.

Proposed uses of blockchain are as varied as they are numerous. With suggested applications including medical records, transaction processing, identity management, and even voting you can see how pervasive blockchain could become. Those looking to apply it toward sustainability purposes are very excited by the possibilities. Food tracking is only the tip of the iceberg. Verification of sustainability claims, distribution of renewable energy credits, registration of the provenance of minerals and precious materials, food safety, and shelf life will all be made simpler and more secure when the blockchain is common place. One of the most exciting possibilities is when blockchain is applied to another new technology we have already discussed in this article: Microgrids.

LO3 Energy has demonstrated the application of blockchain to assist with trading power among microgrids. Using the tracking technology, LO3 Energy can seamlessly manage the transfer of clean energy across a solar energy microgrid in say Brooklyn, New York. Here the clean-energy microgrid serves a city block. Buildings producing more energy than they consume can allow other buildings to draw upon the surplus. And the best part is there is a foolproof record of how much was taken, where it came from, and where it ended up.

Blockchain may be just under a decade old, but its recognition and support has sky rocketed in recent years. From 2014-2016 venture capitalists invested upwards of $1 billion in blockchain-related startup projects. Hearing people like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty saying things like "Once widely adopted, it [blockchain] will change the world" makes it hard not to envision that blockchain has a bright future.


We at MEP are contributing to the sustainability cause as well! 2017 was a great year for our company. We were able to increase our ENERGY STAR certifications from the previous year certifying 240 buildings in 2017. MEP was also honored to receive the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Service and Product Provider Award. This is the second year our company has received a Partner of the Year award.

ENERGY STAR is not the only program that made 2017 a year of sustainability success for MEP. We have been assisting our clients in understanding and complying with State and City energy benchmarking and transparency laws. From California's AB-802 to San Francisco's Energy Benchmarking ordinance we have assisted dozens of buildings with analyzing and submitting their data to state and city officials. 2017 saw the release of Los Angeles' brand new energy and water efficiency program (EBEWE) as well.

We strive to educate our clients on these ordinances and how their building is consuming resources. Be it via social media, our company website, or our relationships with building owners and operators across the country we strive to keep the public abreast on the latest developments in sustainability and energy efficiency.

It is clear that 2017 brought many exciting developments. But in order to manifest a more sustainable future we must always strive to stay on a path that uses the resources available to us in the most responsible, rational ways possible. New technology and policy can only take us so far if we are not continuing to educate ourselves on how our behaviors impact the world around, and searching for ways to improve. If we enter into this New Year with dialogue, thoughtfulness, and care then we will surely find ourselves heading in the right direction.

This blog article has been posted by Maximum Energy Professionals, a mechanical engineering firm located in Torrance, CA. For information on Sustainability Services including: ENERGY STAR utility benchmarking and award certification, California AB802 Compliance, ASHRAE energy audits, LEED, and energy conservation/green Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing design, please give us a call at 310-782-1410 or visit our website at