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This paper presents a system architecture for load management in smart buildings which enables autonomous demand side load management in the smart grid. Being of a layered structure composed of three main modules for admission control, load balancing, and demand response management, this architecture can encapsulate the system functionality, assure the interoperability between various components, allow the integration of different energy sources, and ease maintenance and upgrading. Hence it is capable of handling autonomous energy consumption management for systems with heterogeneous dynamics in multiple time-scales and allows seamless integration of diverse techniques for online operation control, optimal scheduling, and dynamic pricing. The design of a home energy manager based on this architecture is illustrated and the simulation results with Matlab/Simulink confirm the viability and efficiency of the proposed framework.