The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council was excited to gather in person with Virginia’s energy efficiency industry leaders for our annual Spring Forum on May 5th. Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making this event a great success!
Our biannual forums are known for their ability to bring together Virginia’s energy efficiency leaders to make valuable connections, and this event did not disappoint. Energy efficiency professionals convened in person at the Dorey Recreation Center in Henrico County for ample networking time, a keynote address from a prominent energy-efficiency champion, educational presentations, a membership spotlight, and the organization’s annual business meeting with Board elections.
Senator Jennifer McClellan
The event kicked off with a brief opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish, who provided an update on the organization’s 2022 accomplishments thus far. Attendees were then treated to a keynote address from Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan, a long-time advocate for clean energy in the Commonwealth. Senator McClellan began by stating the importance of clean energy before specifically discussing the numerous benefits of energy efficiency; “energy efficiency is the cheapest way and the zero-carbon way to have clean energy”. She also provided a recap of recent clean energy legislation, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, insisting that Virginia must continue taking action to remain a clean energy leader. We are in the midst of transiting to clean energy; Virginia can continue to be a leader, or it can be at the end of the pack.
Members voting during the Board election
Next was our annual business meeting, a dedicated time where we hold our Board of Directors election and have our members share their accomplishments. Chelsea Harnish started this portion of the meeting with organizational updates, including the process of developing our 2023-2025 strategic plan. Afterward, Board Vice-Chair Mark Jackson (CHP Energy Solutions) led our 2022 Board of Directors election. VAEEC members re-elected seven Board members:
- Elizabeth Beardsley, U.S. Green Building Council
- Tim Bernadowski, Siemens Industry
- KC Bleile, Viridiant
- Bill Eger, City of Alexandria
- Stephen Evanko, Dominion Due Diligence Group
- Mark Jackson, CHP Energy Solutions, and
- Carrie Webster, Henrico County
Members elected Megan Partridge with Franklin Energy to fill an open seat on the Board of Directors. We also officially welcomed Joyce Bodoh (Rappahannock Electric Cooperative) and Bryna Dunn (Moseley Architects) to the Board. These individuals are fulfilling the terms of former Board members. We are excited to add new voices to our leadership and to continue working with our seven re-elected members.
Remarkable Member Updates
After the remarkable member updates, a time for members to highlight their latest successes, and a networking break, attendees reconvened for our plenary session, Advancing Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment. Speakers included: Bryna Dunn (Moseley Architects), Andrew Grigsby (Viridiant), Abby Johnson (Virginia PACE Authority), and Benjamin Knopp (Community Housing Partners). Julia Reynolds (Chesterfield County) moderated.
While the keynote address focused on past successes and an overview of this year’s General Assembly session, this session was more forward-focused. Speakers touched on the latest and greatest opportunities for the field right now and their predictions for the next five years. They also covered the challenges and barriers, as well as the opportunities, they are seeing in their particular niche of the energy efficiency industry.
Advancing EE in the Built Environment
Abby focused on the statewide Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, including recent legislation that enhances the scope of C-PACE projects. Andrew emphasized the value of efficiency and green design and using funding to support social good. He also discussed the energy code work that Viridiant is doing with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. Ben talked about pushing the boundaries of weatherization with MERV-13 filtration, heat pump deployment, electrification, and weatherization deferral repairs. Bryna provided an overview of Moseley’s True Sustainability Program and how it ties together wellness, decarbonization, and resilience.
After closing remarks, the event concluded with a happy hour at Triple Crossing – Fulton in Richmond. With networking being one of the main benefits of a VAEEC membership, we were delighted to safely offer this in-person opportunity. It was a pleasure to connect with many of our members face-to-face again after primarily hosting virtual events for the past two years.
Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, and event attendees for making this one of our best events to date!
Additional event information, including speaker biographies and sponsor features, can be found in the event program. Event attendees received a PDF of the event’s presentation in the post-event email. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you did not receive it. Events photos can be viewed in the photo gallery below.
Columbia Gas of Virginia (Business Silver member) has launched a new phase of WarmWise, the company’s energy efficiency and conservation program aimed at reducing customers’ energy usage. With this new phase comes enhanced programs for both residential and business customers. WarmWise is also continuing to partner with contractors across Virginia to educate customers on these rebate programs.
In addition to continuing residential rebates offered for floor insulation, attic insulation, energy efficient windows and gas furnaces, the WarmWise Home Savings Program now offers rebates for smart thermostats and energy efficient doors and skylights. Through the Business Savings Program, commercial customers may receive rebates for smart thermostats, high-efficiency gas furnaces and attic insulation in addition to previously offered rebates for boiler controls, infrared heaters and free high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves.
Also new to the program, residential customers may qualify for up to two free Energy Efficiency Kits when they complete the WarmWise Home Savings Evaluation – a free online home energy audit. Customers with natural gas space heating can now receive a free Energy Efficiency Kit with door sweeps and weather stripping. The Energy Efficiency Kit containing faucet aerators and high-efficiency shower heads is again available to customers with natural gas water heating. All customers who complete the evaluation will also receive energy savings tips customized to their homes.
To learn more about energy-saving opportunities, visit WarmWiseVA.com.
For over 165 years, Siemens has built a reputation for delivering leading-edge products and services, high levels of customer satisfaction, and an unending spirit of innovation. As a $100B company with over 370,000 employees in 190 countries, Siemens is a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, industry, energy, healthcare, infrastructure, and building automation.
From initial assessment through ongoing support, the Building Technologies Division of Siemens Industry, Inc. is the world market leader for safe, reliable, energy-efficient, and sustainable buildings and infrastructures. As a service provider, system integrator, and product manufacturer, Siemens offers sustainable building products, technologies, and solutions that help optimize building automation, fire safety and security systems, HVAC, air quality, power distribution and management, and energy efficiency. Our systems, services, resources, and experience help ensure facilities are safe, efficient, and compliant.
As a true full-service energy services company (ESCO), Siemens provides the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end energy solutions – from energy reduction to production and procurement – enabling cities to best achieve energy and water goals while positively impacting the economy and environment. Siemens extensive expertise in guaranteed performance-based solutions, combined with our scalable, proven portfolio, allows us to most efficiently and effectively meet the needs of all communities, including small-, medium-, and large-sized cites.
Siemens Commissioning Advantage Program (CxA) is a comprehensive building energy and performance optimization program designed to improve the way facility mangers operate their facilities. This program includes a variety of individual offerings that have a far greater impact when combined as a holistic solution.
Siemens’ white paper, “Commissioning: An Essential Part of a Comprehensive Energy Strategy,” talks about how and why Commissioning should be included in a company’s energy plan. Here is an excerpt from that white paper:
“Through proper assessment and planning, a comprehensive energy strategy that includes commissioning will serve as a roadmap to maximize building performance. A fragmented approach to commissioning can compromise the long-term health of the building; it is important to integrate commissioning into a facility’s energy management strategy. Depending on the building’s level of energy-efficiency, age, and use, the commissioning approach will be comprised of both one-time initiatives and ongoing services, and both are designed to reduce energy costs while enabling continuous performance improvements.”
A Holistic Energy Strategy Includes Five Key Phases
- Strategy & Planning
- Evaluation & Assessment
- Program Implementation
- Ongoing Services & Optimization
- Measurement & Reporting
Learn more at www.usa.siemens.com/commissioning or contact:
Janet S. Tribble
Siemens Industry, Inc.
Building Technologies Division
Business Development, Building Performance & Sustainability
Pearl National Home Certification
Business Silver Member
Pearl National Home Certification is a Virginia-based startup launched in 2015. Pearl is dedicated to increasing the energy efficiency and comfort of existing homes and will transform the market by helping homeowners capture the value of their home energy upgrades for resale or refinance. Network contractors and real estate agents grow their businesses when they become Pearl Partners by providing their clients access to Pearl’s special services, such as exclusive rebates and lending products, and a “My Home Profile” account to track progress towards certification.
At the helm are Co-Founders Cynthia Adams, also founder and President of the VAEEC and formerly the Executive Director of the Local Energy Alliance Program; and Robin LeBaron, formerly Managing Director of the National Home Performance Council. Pearl is an official partner with the Department of Energy’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, running pilots in central and northern Virginia.
How Does Pearl Work?
Pearl’s certification service is used by contractors to verify and score a home’s energy assets for certification. When a home’s features earn it enough points, Pearl issues a BRONZE, SLIVER, GOLD, or Net Zero certificate and Home Energy Asset Inventory report. Real estate agents use Pearl’s services to help sellers market their energy efficient home and to help buyers maintain and improve their “new” home through an exclusive “My Home Profile” account. “My Home Profile” provides homeowners with a plan to achieve certification, as well as online resources for maintaining their home. Pearl’s software also functions like a virtual general contractor, helping homeowners find contractors to make improvements and tracking progress made over time.
Why Homeowners Sign Up with Pearl
Pearl offers homeowners:
- An initial estimate of the home’s certification level through a free My Home Profile account
- Information on rebates and loans to help pay for energy, health and other home improvements
- Access to a network of high-quality, specially trained Pearl-Approved Contractors
- Certification of a home’s energy efficient and health features
- Documentation and marketing services to help sell a certified home
Interested homeowners who want to sign up for Pearl can do so here: www.yourhomeprofile.com.
You can check out a sample certification report here.
How Contractors Benefit with Pearl
Pearl’s software provides quality contractors a marketing and certification system to enhance home performance and energy efficiency sales. Network contractor benefits include:
- Client engagement from the first appointment on
- Increased job size through certification services
- Relationship marketing through Pearl’s email services
- Homeowner referrals from Pearl Partners
- Differentiation from low bid/low quality competitors
This list of benefits results in increased revenue for contractors: the average insulation sales person can generate over $100K in additional yearly sales with Pearl, and the average HVAC sales person double that number. To learn more about how contractors can grow their business with Pearl, visit www.pearlcertification.com/contractor.
How Real Estate Agents Benefit with Pearl
Realtors have been among Pearl’s earliest and strongest partners, given the mutual interest in helping home buyers create value, and sellers access it.
The National Association of Home Builders found that nine out of ten buyers would rather purchase a home with energy-efficient features, and would be willing to pay more for it. A recent study by the Appraisal Institute and the Institute for Market Transformation found that Washington, D.C. homes that were certified energy efficient sold for a 3.6% price premium. It’s representative of what we’re seeing across markets in the U.S. where, on average, third party certified homes are selling for 4-5% higher. On a $500K home, this can be $25K in added value sellers are currently leaving on the table.
As a Pearl Partner, real estate agents get:
- Buyer’s closing gift of a Pearl “My Home Profile” account
- Monthly client emails with informative and timely maintenance tips
- Training on selling the energy efficient home
- Special certification report package and other marketing tools for selling the certified home
- Client referrals from our Pearl Network contractors
Real estate agents interested in learning more should visit pearlcertification.com/homevalue/
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
Learn more at www.enable.schneider-electric.com or contact your local representative:
Energy and Sustainability Services, Team Leader
Phone: 804 486 1005 | Mobile: 540 798 3220
Featured Member of the Month: Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC)
Business Gold Member
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) serves more than 160,000 homes and businesses across its 22-county service area, which stretches from the West Virginia border in Clarke County south to near Charlottesville and east to West Point. As a not-for-profit, consumer-owned utility, REC is committed to providing value to its members. While reliable and affordable electricity is the foundation of REC’s mission, support to local communities, consideration of the environment, and service to its members complete REC’s value equation.
“REC’s Core Values are Caring, Integrity, Respect, and Service,” says David Koogler, REC vice president of member and external relations (and VAEEC Governance Board member). “Adhering to those values means more than just selling electricity. We want our members to use electricity efficiently. Wise and efficient use of electricity helps consumers receive more value for their energy dollars, results in more satisfied consumers, and conserves natural resources,” explains Koogler.
The Cooperative encourages and facilitates energy efficiency through multiple communication channels, including social media, traditional advertising, Cooperative Living – a very popular magazine exclusively provided to its members, bill messages, well versed agents in its contact center, numerous online options, and phone and on-site energy consultations. An excellent example of the variety of REC Efficiency Programs and advice is found in the pages of the current issue of Cooperative Living.
REC recognizes that the first step toward efficient use of electricity is to increase awareness of energy use. An innovative program called myusage.com helps create that awareness. Members enrolled in the myusage service can receive daily usage information via email or alerts when usage exceeds preset boundaries. The program overlays weather information to help explain why usage varies from day-to-day. If daily usage increases without a corresponding change in weather, the consumer is alerted to potential problems, such as a heat pump operating in the emergency mode, and can take corrective actions sooner, before receiving an unusually high monthly bill.
Visit the Energy Center at myrec.coop to learn more about the myusage service and REC’s other efficiency programs.
Featured Member of the Month: Community Housing Partners (CHP) and their work with Weatherizers Without Borders (WWB)
Business Gold Member
Christiansburg-based Community Housing Partners, or CHP (Business Gold VAEEC member), does incredible work creating and sustaining “communities that promote vitality in neighborhoods, foster wealth-building for individuals, and contribute to a better environment for future generations” through sustainable development, architectural design, construction, homeownership,, housing management, resident services, energy training and research, emergency home repair, and weatherization.
But what’s equally impressive is their work not just outside the Commonwealth but outside the United States. As a founding partner of Weatherizers Without Borders (WWB), CHP works with various global entities to fight energy inefficiency and energy poverty in order to improve the health, safety, comfort, and economy of families across the globe in Central and South American countries. They help introduce programs like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program as public policies in these regions, and CHP Energy Solutions Research and Training has trained WWB volunteers in both Virginia and Argentina.
CHP’s Chase Counts is one of several subject experts from the Training Center who have provided training and technical assistance in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “During my three-week stay, we were able to provide hands-on field training to 15 installers, an additional 8 student-volunteers that would continue developing the trainings, and we held a two week building science intensive course at the Instituto Tecnologico Buenos Aires for 25 architects, engineers, utility professionals, professors, and interested students,” explains Chase, “There is a strong interest and demand for weatherization work that extends beyond saving energy to also include improving quality of life and making households healthier.”
WWB is preparing to host their third International Summit on Weatherization at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington in early March. The Summit will be complemented by speakers and presentations on weatherization both in the US and Latin America. The presentations will be followed by workshops discussing how to building international sustainable housing polices and the role of universities in this challenge.
We wrote about WWB back in January 2014 when things were just getting started.
You can learn more about WWB’s work in Uruguay and the overall global reach of WWB.
Dominion Virginia Power
Gold Level Member
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy with operations in 14 states. Dominion Virginia Power offers 6 non-residential, and 7 residential programs that empower customers to manage their energy consumption, resulting in lower bills throughout the year. The company recently expanded its EnergyShare program to provide financial assistance, weatherization services and educational outreach to more qualifying customers, including people living with disabilities and military veterans facing financial hardships. As a regulated utility, Dominion regularly reviews and proposes new programs for approval to the State Corporation Commission (SCC). Currently under consideration by the SCC are a residential programmable thermostat program and a small business program.
To view the current list of programs and incentives for Dominion customers visit the Energy Conservation home page.
“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:
Unlocking Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Utility Customers: Four Key Lessons from Real-World Program Experience
Beyond Weatherization: How Innovative Program Strategies Can Enhance Core Low-Income Programs
Arlington County government joined VAEEC in 2014. The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. Through rethinking energy, we are committed to energy practices that will make Arlington County a more prosperous, healthful, safe and secure place to live, work and play. Come join us.