Category: Success Stories

Remarkable Member Updates from Spring 2018 Meeting

Project Homes delivering their update during the member portion of the spring meeting.

At each of our biannual meetings, VAEEC members are given a platform to share their recent remarkable updates or success stories. Below is a snapshot of what was shared at the Spring 2018 Meeting on May 10th.

Cynthia Adams- Pearl Home Certification

  • Energy efficiency improvements increase the value of residential housing. This message has been published and will be sent out to lobby on a Federal level

Michael Hubber- Dominion Energy

  • Dominion Energy’s weatherization program has had huge success with over 21,000 multi-family homes being serviced.
  • Dominion Energy also started a Small Business weatherization program where energy costs savings are up to $1,100 per month.

Philip Agee- Viridiant

  • Viridiant has begun to work with tech support to assist with Energy Efficiency. They have worked with Virginia Tech on a study focused on Energy Efficiency savings. The study showed a 30% savings on utility bills.

Cindy Zork- US Green Building Council

  • US Green Building Council held their Leadership Awards on May 3, 2018.
  • Read more about USGBC’s award ceremony here.

Benjamin Knopp- Think Little

  • Think Little hosted a webinar on how to set up heat pump systems that will deliver high-efficiency heating and cooling. Taking these steps can save the consumer up to 40% on their energy costs.

Abby Kemp- project:Homes

  • project:Homes is working closely with Dominion Energy to help them stretch their money for their weatherization program
  • Last fall, project:Homes teamed up with the VAEEC to host Delegate Ware at a single-family home they were actively weatherizing. Read about the experience here.

Andy Farmer- State Corporation Commission

  • Energy conservation curriculum for Virginia 3rd-graders has been developed with input from several organizations working inside schools.
  • This curriculum goes along with the Virginia SOLs and can be found here.

Scott Dicke- Sustainable Real Estate Solutions

  • SRS is working with VAEEC and the Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance to provide education and outreach to Virginia localities.
  • Arlington County is the first county in the Commonwealth to fully launch a C-PACE program.

Mark Jackson-Patagonia Weatherization Tour

VAEEC Member and Board Member

In February, VAEEC Board Member Mark Jackson embarked on the Patagonia Weatherization  Tour. As Vice President and COO for Weatherizers Without Borders, Mark was part of a group of US weatherizes that visited the cities Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes before finishing the tour in Santiago, Chile. The team visited a site in Bariloche where they plan to develop the first weatherization training center outside the US.

Mark participated in conferences and presentations in Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. The meetings drew in a crowd of experts, professionals and South American weatherizers who had the chance to meet with discuss experiences with US experts as well. Mark visited weatherized homes and saw the impacts weatherization is having in Latin America.

The tour ended in Santiago de Chile where the weatherizes plan to start a pilot program before mid 2018.

To read more about the tour and see pictures from the trip visit the weatherizer’s blog.

Community Housing Partners: “The Root of the Problem” 

Business Gold Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

Community Housing Partners Energy Solutions was called in to address the root causes of moisture issues in newly renovated energy efficient Earthcraft Virginia certified properties. CHP identified multiple contributing factors including mechanical design, lack of commissioning, knowledge by trades, and lack of education of residents and property maintenance employees. This issue has caused vacancies due to IAQ issues and lack of trust. The greatest issue CHP faced in addressing these issues was resistance to change. Despite the challenge, there are huge possibilities, as CHP tightens buildings they must make sure it is done correctly in both design and construction, as well as commissioning and education of the residents and maintenance technicians. If they don’t get it right, they could generate lack of faith or trust in building science and energy efficiency. Their next step is to develop a holistic system-wide approach for their development process, incorporating these new elements.

Abigail Johnson: “Abacus Property Solutions” 

Individual Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

With their client, Abacus Property Solutions won an Enterprise Grant to develop an energy strategy focused on their D.C. affordable housing portfolio. In Phase I of the grant, Abacus developed comprehensive recommendations on how to increase energy and water efficiency and identified ways to finance these upgrades using PACE, weatherization grants, solar incentives, and third party financing. In Phase II, they are implementing these recommendations, and are also training residents and staff on how to maintain savings through operational and behavioral changes. A problem Abacus faced was ensuring the property owner understood their energy and water consumption in order to reduce utility and operational costs, which would benefit both the landlord and tenants.

Abacus Property Solutions

The implementation of these recommendations will result in lower costs, which can be used to support their tenant needs. Like with many projects of this type, there was a lack of data – common with growing companies that buy or retrofit existing buildings. This project points again to the value of tenant-level data to make the business case for energy efficiency. The ability to benchmark their building with aggregate tenant data is very important in efforts to improve the performance of their portfolio. The next step for Abacus is to open up these services to similar types of building owners in Virginia, where they can help low-income residents. Abby says the best way to move forward with these programs for VAEEC members is to evaluate early on the obstacles in obtaining good quality data – through software, knowledgeable maintenance staff, etc. This project points again to the value of tenant-level data to make the business case for energy efficiency. The ability to benchmark their building with aggregate tenant data is very important in efforts to improve the performance of their portfolio. The next step for Abacus is to open up these services to similar types of building owners in Virginia, where they can help low-income residents. Abby says the best way to move forward with these programs for VAEEC members is to evaluate early on the obstacles in obtaining good quality data – through software, knowledgeable maintenance staff, etc.

 

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: “Online Member Portal”

Business Gold Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

SmartHub Portal Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative believes that providing tools to help its members easily manage their accounts and energy use is crucial to providing excellent service. Over the past year, REC worked to transition to a new customer information system and online account experience— MyREC SmartHub. The online portal is now available to all members using a computer or using the app on mobile devices. One key component is the My Usage tool, which provides members access to hourly, monthly and annual energy use information. The goal is to help members understand how they use electricity and how to use it efficiently.

REC saw the opportunity to create a tool that shares and uses the information they are capable of providing to their members. Making the tool available to members quickly was a challenge, as prior to the MyREC SmartHub members had to access several separate tools. The goal was to put everything in one portal, which took over a year to implement. However, as REC communications specialist Casey Hollins says, “it was well worth the work employees put into it.” REC’s next step will be to continue to cultivate an understanding of energy use by raising awareness of this new, free tool available to their members. The goal is for the vast majority of members to use this tool to monitor and stay informed about their energy use. REC offers this piece of advice to other VAEEC members looking to create similarly successful programs: Listen to your customers. Find solutions to not only meet but to also exceed their expectations.

LEAP: “Exceeding Expectations”

Business Silver Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

As Local Energy Alliance Program, Inc. (LEAP) was preparing the content for their 2016 Annual Report, they considered presenting “zip codes served” as a measure of the geographic variety of individuals who had received some service from them. These services ranged from comprehensive energy audits to providing Dominion’s weatherization package to consulting on clean energy options by phone or email. Andrew Grigsby of LEAP thought the answer might be 40 or 50. He was floored – and very proud – when the database said it was 101. LEAP’s very small staff touches a lot of people – in a lot of different Virginia communities. LEAP aims to beat the number of those serviced in 2017.

Saifur Rahman: “BEM Controls, LLC”

Individual Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

BEM Controls has developed an open architecture platform for monitoring and control of any IoT device using sensors from building automation to building surveillance to roof top solar to battery storage and others. BEM Controls has developed a low-cost and low-maintenance solution for small and medium-sized buildings, which are available for larger buildings from commercial vendors at 50 times the cost. The company saw the opportunity to provide monitoring, and control management of small to medium-size class B and class C buildings for energy efficiency applications. The BEM Controls solution can also be deployed in larger class A buildings.

Buildings where BEM Controls solutions have been deployed are saving 10-30 % electricity by deploying heating/cooling and lighting controls. Despite these results, it can still be a challenge convincing building operators that such low cost solution can be effective and save energy. If commercial buildings across the state widely implement similar solutions that BEM Controls provides, the state of Virginia can save 10% or more in electricity usage. BEM Controls says VAEEC members should work early on with building operators to learn specific information about their building operations, and their priorities for these programs to reach their full potential.

Arlington County: “Lending Lightbulbs” 

Government Member

As told at the Spring 2017 VAEEC Meeting Member Round Robin.

Arlington County has expanded its Energy Lending Library with the County library system, whereby residents can check out a box of LED light bulbs to try different bulbs in different lamps at home. There is a phenomenal variety of light bulb choices consumers are faced with as they replace incandescents and fluorescent bulbs. This tool, available at a half-dozen library branches, helps people avoid buyers regret with this new technology. The box of bulbs adds to the innovative technology Arlington lends to residents from their libraries, which also includes infrared cameras and electric metering devices. Other northern Virginia jurisdictions have contacted Arlington seeking advice on how to duplicate this Energy Lending Library in their own jurisdictions.