Virginia’s energy efficiency community gathered in Richmond on November 14th for the VAEEC Fall Forum & Awards Luncheon. A big thank you to our sponsors, speakers, awards finalists, and attendees for making this event a great success!
The event kicked off with an opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish. Attendees were updated on the organization’s newly released three-year strategic plan and 2019 accomplishments and updates. This portion of the event was followed by a keynote address from Tesla’s Patrick Bean. Patrick wowed the crowd by sharing Tesla’s vision for strategic electrification and the role energy efficiency plays in making that vision a reality. For example, Tesla engineers were able to increase the driving range of their Model X by 10% solely through the use of more efficient materials!
Afterward, participants headed to the first breakout session of the day where they could attend an hour-long panel, Energy Efficiency and Emerging Technologies, or two thirty-minute snap sessions, Utility Energy Efficiency Updates and Community Housing Partners’ Heat, Air, and Moisture (H.A.M) House Demo.
Energy Efficiency and Emerging Technologies: Back by popular demand, this session focused on up-and-coming innovations in the realm of energy monitoring, building controls, wastewater concentration, and home performance. Panelists also spoke about how their company works with the organizations in attendance and can help Virginia meet its energy goals. Speakers included Cynthia Adams (CEO and Co-Founder of Pearl Certification), Alexander Bazhinov (CEO and Founder of Lumin), and Karen Sorber (CEO of Micronic Technologies), and Marco Rubin (Senior Investment Director for the Center for Innovative Technology) moderated the panel. This session was sponsored by the Center for Innovative Technology.
Utility Energy Efficiency Updates: During the first snap session of the event, Virginia’s two largest investor-owned utilities, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company (APCo), provided brief overviews on their current and proposed energy efficiency programs. Attendees were able to learn how their businesses can take advantage of these programs. Speakers included Michael Hubbard (Manager, Energy Conservation for Dominion Virginia / North Carolina Power) and Don Nichols (Manager of Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy for APCo), and Susan Larsen (Director of Business Policy for Columbia Gas of Virginia) moderated the panel. Columbia Gas of Virginia sponsored this session.
H.A.M House Demo: Community Housing Partners’ (CHP) H.A.M House demonstrates how Heat, Air, and Moisture move through a building. Understanding these interactions is crucial in the design, building, and retrofitting of houses for higher efficiency and health and safety. VAEEC staff and Board were wowed by this demonstration last year during a visit to CHP’s training center, so we were thrilled to be able to present this opportunity to event attendees. This session was led by CHP’s Andrew Woodruff.
After a plated lunch, twelve Virginia-based projects or programs were recognized in the following categories: Academic, Commercial, Government, Low-Income, Residential, and Programs. We also presented the first-ever Founders’ Award to two of our founding members, Cynthia Adams of Peal Certification and Bill Greenleaf of Virginia Community Capital. This award honored their dedication to our work. For info on each winning project or program, visit our 2019 Awards page.
The second breakout session proceeded the Awards Luncheon. Participants chose to attend either the Preparing People for Progress in the Workforce panel or two snap sessions: 2020 Legislative Forecast and CHP’s H.A.M House Demo.
Preparing People for Progress in the Workforce: Growth in the clean energy industry is often stymied by the lack of available workers. This panel discussed the existing opportunities to foster the necessary skills in our communities, and how these programs can drive further changes. Speakers included Shawn Fenstermacher (General Manager for VEIC’s Mid-Atlantic Region), Mark Jackson (Executive Director at CHP), and Todd Estes (Virginia Community College System), and Carrie Webster (Energy Manager with Henrico County) moderated the panel. The session was sponsored by VEIC.
H.A.M House Demo: CHP’s Andrew Woodruff offered a second demonstration on how Heat, Air, and Moisture move through a building and how they affect our living environment.
2020 Legislative Forecast- What’s Next: During this snap session, attendees heard from two seasoned lobbyists on what the results of November’s election mean for the upcoming 2020 General Assembly session, as well as the probability for advancing legislation to help our industry grow. We were even able to provide attendees with a just-released, exclusive update on the new chairwoman of the Commerce and Labor Committee in the House. Speakers included Carmen Bingham (Affordable Clean Energy Project Coordinator with Virginia Poverty Law Center) and Andrew Vehorn (Vice President of Government Affairs for the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives), and the panel was moderated by Chelsea Harnish (VAEEC). Old Dominion Electric Cooperative sponsored this session.
After the breakout session, attendees enjoyed refreshments during the Networking and Snack break before heading into the last panel of the day, Exploring Energy Efficiency’s Role in Resiliency Efforts. Due to last-minute, unforeseen circumstances, Shelby O’Neil with Enterprise Community Partners and Joshua Saks from the Office of the Governor were unable to participate on the panel; however, two VAEEC Board members filled-in. The audience was treated to a candid discussion on what Virginia localities are doing in the realm of resiliency and how they can use Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy to help finance resiliency measures. Speakers included Abby Johnson (Executive Director of Virginia PACE Authority and President of Abacus Property Solutions), Bill Eger (City of Alexandria) and Thomas Nicholas (City of Virginia Beach). VAEEC Board member Elizabeth Beardsley (USGBC) moderated.
Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, awards finalists, and event attendees for making this one of our best events to date. Click here to view photos of the event.
Mark your calendars! We hope to see everyone at our Spring 2020 Forum on Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Richmond.
This is a guest post from Honeywell, the program manager for Dominion’s newest residential energy efficiency program.
Residential homeowners looking to make their home more energy efficient in preparation for winter and beyond can benefit from the launch of Dominion Energy Virginia’s new Home Energy Assessment (HEA) Program.
HEA is one of 8 programs approved by the State Corporation Commission in support of improving energy efficiency opportunities in Virginia for residential and commercial customers.
Dominion Energy’s residential customers can receive an in-home energy assessment where a qualified participating contractor will conduct a walk-through audit and install simple measures like LED bulbs and water heater pipe insulation, while identifying other energy-saving opportunities in the home. Recommended energy efficiency improvements will be suggested for maintenance and upgrades on heating and cooling systems, ductwork and water heaters through a customized HEA report. Once customers have worked with their contractor to install the recommended improvements, they are eligible to receive valuable rebates that help to offset the cost of service.
- You can schedule an assessment at a time that is convenient for you with the contractor. Visit DominionEnergy.com/HomeEnergy to find a list of participating contractors.
- The contractor conducts a 30 to 60-minute walk-through of the home and installs simple measures, while identifying other energy-saving opportunities
- The contractor works with you to submit the rebate application for work completed
Dominion Energy’s new portfolio of energy efficiency programs were approved to run for a 5-year period through June 2024. Other new residential programs include appliance recycling and efficient products rebates. Non-residential programs provide rebates for energy efficient lighting systems and controls, heating and cooling systems, window film, small manufacturing facilities and office buildings.
All approved programs are part of the $870 million of energy efficiency programs that Dominion Energy is required to propose over a 10-year period, as ordered by the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018. The landmark legislation will keep Virginia’s traditional advantage of low electricity prices and reliable service while taking dramatic steps towards the future by expanding renewable energy and broadening the potential for energy efficiency programs in Virginia. If you are interested in learning more about these energy efficiency programs, please visit www.DominionEnergy.com/ECprograms.
A lot of progress has been made on updating the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) since our last blog post. First, the update that was finalized last year (the 2015 update for anyone who gets really into the weeds on this topic), went into effect earlier this month. Our friends over at Viridiant made a terrific infographic outlining the energy changes in that update and are hosting several compliance trainings across the state.
Over the summer, VAEEC and some of our members attended DHCD energy subgroup meetings to identify areas of consensus among stakeholders on the current update (the 2018 update for anyone who gets really into the weeds on this topic). You can read about all of the proposals discussed in the initial subgroup meeting in our last blog post on building codes.
We are pleased to announce that VAEEC and our members were able to successfully reach a compromise with the Homebuilders Association of Virginia, and other stakeholders, on several key proposals. The biggest gain is that blower door testing will now be required on all new homes that are constructed after this update goes into effect. Two smaller proposals also made it into the draft USBC- updating REScheck software and requiring a certificate on the electrical box that includes various energy details of the home. These proposals were voted on at the final workgroup meeting and went before the Board of Housing and Community Development who voted to include them in the draft USBC on September 16th.
While our insulation proposal was deferred until next year, we have an agreement with the homebuilders to do a couple of information sessions throughout Virginia with homebuilders to help them better understand what would be required with an increase in the insulation R-value. We hope to see some improvements to the insulation requirements in the final USBC.
So, what’s next? We are waiting for the draft USBC to be placed in the Virginia Register, which will kick off a 30-day comment period. Then, next year, the entire process begins again as we move into the final phase of this update. The USBC update process is described in detail on our Building Codes page. We even have a handy graphic to explain it.
This week is National Clean Energy Week! Established in 2017, NCEW focuses on advancing support of our nation’s energy sector through new methods of market development, policy change, and technological innovation. Virginia was the 5th state to formally recognize the event in 2019 in a state proclamation made by Governor Northam.
The Governor made bigger waves in clean energy last week with his announcement at the VA Clean Energy Summit on Executive Order 43, which set forth ambitious goals for the Commonwealth’s energy future. The three part plan includes:
- Objectives for statewide energy production, with the goal of 30% of Virginia’s electric system powered by renewable energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free power by 2050.
- Lead-By-Example targets for increasing the energy efficiency of Commonwealth agencies and executive branch institutions, with the goal of procuring at least 30% of the power used by those facilities from renewable sources by 2022.
- Development of an energy workforce plan that supports the growing needs of the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
“This is a positive step forward for the energy efficiency industry in Virginia,” said our Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish. “We applaud the Governor for prioritizing workforce development and advancing energy efficiency jobs across the Commonwealth.” The energy efficiency industry currently accounts for over 78,000 jobs in Virginia, and is projected to continue growing by 7.8%.
The Executive Order was just one of the many topics discussed at the VA Clean Energy Summit (VACES). The sold-out inaugural event brought together over 400 professionals from every part of the clean energy industry to learn and network, with 14 breakout sessions, two plenary panels, and two keynote speakers. VAEEC was one of the five host organizations that put on the Summit. In the first plenary panel of the day, Virginia’s Transforming Electricity Grid, David Farnsworth from Regulatory Assistance Project said, “As far as what [work] needs to happen when, I say efficiency first, always.”
Now that the VACES has passed, what can you do to celebrate NCEW?
- Register for the VAEEC Fall 2019 Forum to learn even more about the industry’s future
- Apply for a Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award by Friday
- Call your Senators and Delegates and let them know you support the Executive Order and clean energy in Virginia
- Share pictures and impressions from the VACES and tag #vacleanenergysummit and VAEEC on social media
- Switch to LED light bulbs and install a smart thermostat in your home or office
- Visit one of the LEED certified attractions in VA
Andrew Grigsby of VA-REA said, “The California and Hawaii grids were not built for clean energy saturation, but they have been able to get there because it’s not just renewables. It’s all these pieces (of the industry) working together.”