The Commonwealth’s energy efficiency community gathered on October 4th and 5th for the VAEEC’s annual Energy Efficiency Forum. Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, award winners, and attendees for making this event a great success!
Day one was fully virtual in an effort to make the event more accessible and to provide a diverse array of speakers from across the country. It consisted of a keynote address and four breakout sessions:
Keynote Address: Dr. Bob Holsworth is a Managing Partner at DecideSmart, a consulting firm that provides strategic solutions for complex challenges. Bringing decades of experience in the political sphere, he provided an analysis of Virginia’s election landscape and what that can mean for the Commonwealth’s clean energy future.
“Regardless of the election results, there will be a slate of new legislators. Education will be important.” – Dr. Bob Holsworth, DecideSmart
Technology:What’s New and What’s Next?: The panelists in this session discussed heat pumps and heat pump hot water heaters, demand response AI programs, and data center cooling technologies. The discussion helped to sift facts from fiction and suss out what the on-the-ground realities are, and what we can look forward to in the future. Speakers included Richard Anderson (Siemens), Millie Knowlton (CPower), Andrew Grigsby (Viridiant), and Adam Sledd (Dominion Energy Innovation Center, moderator).
“The question we try to answer is, how can we leverage technology to help humans?” – Richard Anderson, Siemens
Implementing Green Building Policies in a Dillon Rule State: As a Dillon Rule state, Virginia localities are limited as to what they can and cannot mandate. However, jurisdictions are finding creative ways to make progress happen in their communities. Join speakers from Arlington County and the City of Alexandria as they discuss their green building policies and programs, and how they have established minimum standards for new development and major renovations. This was an interactive session where audience members were encouraged to engage with speakers to learn how to implement their own green building policies. VAEEC Board member, Bill Eger (Arlington County), moderated the panel, which included Arlington County’s Paul Roman and the City of Alexandria’s Valerie Amor, and Robert Kerns.
“The idea of ‘business as usual’, ‘we’ve always done it this way’, is one of the biggest challenges in getting developers on board. We’ve got to embrace new ways of doing things to implement green building strategies.” – Valerie Amor, City of Alexandria
Rural Energy Efficiency: No Town Left Behind: According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 88% of Virginia is considered rural. However, this population is often overlooked in energy efficiency policy and programs. This panel focused on how to reach rural communities and what opportunities are available to them. Speakers included Adia Holland (U.S. Department of Agriculture), Lance Hostutler (Optimum Building Solutions LLC), Will Payne (Energy Delta SWVA), and VAEEC Board Vice Chair, Leigh Anne Ratliff (Trane Technologies, moderator).
Case Study Session: Green Building Certifications: Green buildings are environmentally responsible, resource-efficient, and create healthier, more comfortable spaces. Numerous certification systems exist to assess a building’s sustainability and designate it as a green building. This case study session was designed for attendees to benefit from shared knowledge and experience through presentations and audience Q&A. The certifications featured included EarthCraft, Zero-Energy Ready, and Pearl Certification for single-family homes, multifamily buildings, and whole communities. The session was moderated by VAEEC Board member, Bryna Dunn (Moseley Architects), and speakers consisted of Stephen Dareing (Viridiant), Jay Epstein (Healthy Communities), and Casey Murphy (Pearl Certification).
“I want to make low-performing homes the green avocado refrigerators of 2023.” – Casey Murphy, Pearl Certification
After the virtual day wrapped up, attendees had the opportunity to join one of two regional happy hours to further connect with other energy efficiency professionals. This was the first time we have offered a regional happy hour in conjunction with a virtual event. What a great way to spend 2023 #EnergyEfficiencyDay!
Attendees gathered in person for day two at the University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center in Richmond. The day began with an opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish. Attendees were provided with updates on the organization’s 2023 accomplishments and our 2024 priorities, as well as an overview of the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency industry. The day also included a keynote address, a plenary panel, the eighth annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards ceremony, and an on-site reception.
Keynote Address:Attendees were then treated to a keynote address from Dr. Karma Sawyer, Director of Electricity Infrastructure & Buildings (EI&B) Division at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL). In this role, Dr. Sawyer is responsible for shaping and managing a vision and strategy to ensure that PNNL addresses the U.S. Department of Energy’s most important energy efficiency, clean energy, and electricity infrastructure challenges. She discussed energy efficiency as it relates to cutting-edge research, building codes, market transformation, federal funding, and emerging technologies, with a specific focus on equity.
The Energy Efficiency Workforce Initiative: A Holistic Path to Workforce Development:After a break for networking and snacks, attendees came back together for the plenary session focused on the VAEEC’s Energy Efficiency Workforce Initiative. For the last two years, the VAEEC has been developing the EEWI to address Virginia’s growing workforce needs. This panel provided updates from staff and our expert partners as we build out each piece of the puzzle – recruitment, training, placement, and sustainable retention. Speakers included Laura Hanson (Tidewater Community College), Phil Hull (CHP Energy Solutions), Michael Flanagan (Quick AC Quote), Crystal McDonald (D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility), and Rebecca Hui (Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, moderator).
Energizing Efficiency Campaign & Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards Ceremony:Next, we had the honor of hosting our eighth annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards ceremony. We started off by highlighting the 18 submissions to our inaugural Energizing Efficiency Campaign. Case studies can be viewed for each of these participating projects or programs on our 2023 Energizing Efficiency Campaign page. From these 18 submissions, five were chosen by the VAEEC’s Education & Events Committee to receive a 2023 Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award for their incredible energy efficiency contributions. For information on each winning project or program, visit our 2023 Awards page.
The event concluded with an on-site networking reception sponsored by Dominion Energy. It is always a pleasure to connect with many of our members and others in the industry face-to-face, and this was no exception.
Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, award winners, and event attendees for making this one of our best events to date. Click here to view photos of the event. Additional event information, including speaker biographies and sponsor features, can be found in the event program.
Event attendees will receive recordings for each of the four breakout sessions in the post-event email. Presentation PDFs can be viewed at the links above.
2020 has been a unique year for sure. However, looking back, VAEEC and Virginia’s energy efficiency industry saw several monumental wins this year. In fact, Virginia had its best year on the ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. For the first time ever, we broke into the Top 25 and Virginia was ranked #1 in the Southeast. This is a reflection of the hard work and efforts of the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency industry throughout 2020. We look forward to continuing to advance energy efficiency even further in the new year.
For our part, the VAEEC worked tirelessly with fellow stakeholders to pass several key pieces of historic energy efficiency legislation, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). This landmark law will pave the way for a carbon-free Virginia by 2045, ensuring investments in energy efficiency, solar, wind, and more. The VCEA mandates 5% energy savings from the investor-owned utilities by 2025, marking Virginia as just the second state in the Southeast to establish a mandatory stand-alone Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Additional laws established mandatory benchmarking for state buildings, enabled an on-bill tariff program for electric co-ops, and added an energy audit to the residential disclosure during homebuying. We also saw the passage of a law permitting the state energy office to develop a statewide Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, program.
The VAEEC also advanced energy efficiency in the Commonwealth beyond legislation. We identified the need to change Dominion Energy’s definition of low-income eligibility requirements and worked with our members to make it happen. The new definition will allow weatherization providers to serve even more households across Virginia. Three localities passed C-PACE ordinances and one launched a program. Blower door testing and increased ceiling insulation requirements were included in the recently adopted final draft of the Uniform Statewide Building Code.
At the end of each year, the VAEEC completes a program evaluation, which goes hand-in-hand with our Strategic Plan to answer:
What impacts is the organization trying to achieve?
What strategies will help us achieve our goals?
How will we know if our work is successful?
As you might remember, VAEEC staff and Board members met last summer to develop our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan. Taking feedback from our members, we created focus areas for our next three years of work:
Advancement of New Energy-Efficiency Technologies
Utility Programs and VCEA Implementation
Our evaluation focuses on each of these areas, prompts us to think about the goals, strategies, and metrics for each, and assesses whether or not we are on track to achieve our goals. To provide our membership with a snapshot of these goals and whether or not we are on track to achieve them, we are sharing our program evaluation infographics. Take a look below to get a glimpse of all of the EE advancements we were able to achieve in this unprecedented year.
To learn more about the VAEEC’s 2020 achievements, watch our short video below.
Our work would not be successful without the support of our members. Thank you for your dedication to the organization and to Virginia’s energy efficiency industry. We look forward to working with you in the new year to make 2021 our strongest year for EE yet.
Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. With revenues of ~$30 billion in FY2015, their 160,000+ employees serve customers in over 100 countries, helping them to manage their energy and process in ways that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. From the simplest of switches to complex operational systems, their technology, software and services improve the way their customers manage and automate their operations. Their connected technologies reshape industries, transform cities and enrich lives. They call it “Life Is On.”
In the past 23 years, Schneider Electric’s Energy and Sustainability Services team has successfully implemented more than 550 energy savings performance contract (ESPC) projects across the nation and has helped clients around the world save nearly $2 billion. This project delivery method helps publicly funded entities make capital improvements over longer payback periods and offers many long-term benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection.
Two areas where they focus are on schools and cities. Here is an excerpt from their in-depth and compelling Sustainability Mythbusters piece on the hidden value of sustainability for municipalities and schools:
The word “sustainability” may conjure thoughts of recycling, reusable cloth bags and big piles of compost. But for many government entities, sustainability has little relation to these stereotypical green ideas and much more to do with operational efficiency, improved outcomes and a better bottom line. Not only are schools and municipalities adopting sustainability initiatives to satisfy government mandates and public pressures, but they are also using it as tool to become more competitive in today’s economy. In fact, government organizations practicing sustainability are outperforming their peers in areas like job growth, student recruitment, and increased tax revenue. Learn more about how your city, school or university can benefit from a modern sustainability program.
Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Mythbusters piece explores the top 5 misconceptions about sustainability, while highlighting specific case studies, trends, implications and facts around the topic.
1. There is no demand for sustainability in municipalities and schools
2. Sustainability does not make business sense
3. Sustainability is all about being green
4. Sustainability is too expensive
5. The impacts of sustainability are limited
“Optimizing Communications to Low-Income Utility Customers”
Starting this month, we’re modifying our approach to the Featured Member of the Month. In this space we’ll be sharing profiles of VAEEC members and their most innovative and relevant programs in an effort to foster more information sharing and knowledge building among our network. Thanks to Opower for being our “guinea pig” with this new approach and for sharing their story.
Finding ways to save energy and shrink utility bills can make a huge difference for low-income families across the U.S. struggling to make ends meet.
VAEEC member Opower – a company that helps utilities around the world reduce energy consumption and improve relationships with their customers – engages more than 500,000 low-income customers across the U.S. through targeted, personalized communications, empowering low-income families with the information they need to lower their bills.
There are often assumptions that low-income customers would have trouble reducing their energy usage because they have fewer appliances to turn off. Yet Opower has found that EE savings are on par with average customer savings. Further, low-income customers are even more likely than non-low-income customers to take equipment-based actions – things like insulating doors, installing efficient appliances/lighting, insulating attic, etc. — in response to Opower’s Home Energy Reports (HERs). These actions might be undertaken on their own or through weatherization programs that utilities and others offer. And low-income customers report higher rates of satisfaction with the HERs than average customers.
“Opower is committed to giving utilities tools to bring more value to their customers and their communities. There’s a great deal we can do to help low-income families by empowering them with insights that are tailored to their needs and provide practical ways they can reduce energy costs,” says Alex Laskey, Opower President and Co-Founder.
The lessons Opower has learned (and shared through various resources like the white papers which you can access below) in their outreach to low-income customers has huge implications.
“The U.S. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program reaches fewer than 25% of eligible households, yet the needs of low-income families are growing. As funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and LIHEAP decrease or fades away completely, it is critical to help families maximize the value of every available dollar. Energy efficiency offers a promising opportunities to help low-income families manage their energy costs,” says Jim Kapsis, Opower’s Vice President of Global Policy & Regulatory Affairs.
You can download two of Opower’s white papers on this topic on their website:
Trane’s Performance Contracting Portfolio consists of healthcare, higher education, laboratories, military bases, local governments, and K-12 schools. Having worked with many PC clients in the Commonwealth, Trane has earned a reputation for responsible project development, quality design and execution, and “getting results” for customers.