Virginia’s energy efficiency industry gathered together to learn and connect at the VAEEC’s annual Spring Forum on May 23rd. Nearly 100 energy efficiency professionals participated in the event, which included a keynote address, business meeting with Board of Directors elections, membership spotlight, plenary session, and networking time. Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making this event a great success!
Prior to the start of the event, around 20 attendees came together to tour the award-winning, LEED Gold-certified Fairfield Area Library. Opened in late 2019, the library is Henrico County’s 18th government or school building to earn LEED certification for sustainable design and construction and reduced environmental impact. Encompassing 45,000 SF, it features LED interior and exterior lighting, third-party verification of its mechanical and electrical systems, and long-term energy performance verification. Building materials include sustainably harvested wood, rapidly renewable cork, and low-emitting materials. The tour was led by Andrea Quilici and Chuck Wray from the project’s architect firm, Quinn Evans, and Carrie Webster, Henrico County‘s Energy Manager.
The Spring Forum then kicked off with an opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish, who provided an update about Virginia’s energy efficiency industry and the organization’s accomplishments from 2022 to today. This included the VAEEC’s 2023-2025 Strategic Plan objectives and our new Energizing Efficiency Campaign.
Next was a keynote address from Theresa Backhus, Director of the Building Innovation Hub (HUB) with the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT). The HUB supports high-performing buildings across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia by connecting decision-makers, localities, contractors, building owners, and others to resources that make buildings energy-efficient and resilient. Theresa shared an overview of the resources the HUB provides, as well as the building decarbonization opportunities available through federal funding. She also gave an overview of the DMV’s building code updates and building energy performance standards with an emphasis on what Virginia localities can do to address energy efficiency in a Dillion Rule state.
“It’s important not to forget that at the end of the day, buildings are for people; they must support the community they surround.” – Theresa Backhus, Building Innovation Hub (IMT)
Approximately 1/3 of our greenhouse gas emissions are from the new and existing building stock. The HUB emphasizes the importance of transitioning from looking at buildings as the problem to looking at them as the opportunity. And above all, we cannot forget that buildings are for people, which is especially true when you consider that we spend roughly 90% of our lives in buildings. Therefore, they must support the community around them by focusing on energy efficiency, resiliency, and health and safety.
Next, John Morrill, led the business portion of the event, which started off with our 2023 Board of Directors election. VAEEC members re-elected two board members:
- Bryna Dunn, Moseley Architects (1st full term)
- Leigh Anne Ratliff, Trane Technologies (2nd term)
Members then voted to elect two new directors to the Board:
- McKenna Dunbar, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
- Lesley Fore, Alliance to Save Energy
We are thrilled to add new voices to our leadership and to continue working with our two re-elected members. We would also like to recognize our outgoing Board members, Maggie Kelley Riggins, with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Joyce Bodoh, with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, for their outstanding leadership to the organization.
Attendees were next treated to a round robin of updates and successes from our members before moving into a networking break. After reconvening, the plenary session began. Meeting the Moment for Building Demand touched on the how the federal climate initiatives passed by the Biden administration will change the energy landscape for decades to come, before moving into how experts from across the field are planning to implement successful programs and projects using the funds. The discussion also included how we can make this round of funding more “durable” than that of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) era to create systemic change and avoid the “one and done” projects.
“We don’t have a shortage of money, but we need an easy button now to effectively deploy it. The Inflation Reduction Act is our window of opportunity to create a unified customer experience.” – Andrew Grigsby, Viridiant
- Bettina Bergoo, Virginia Energy: Along with moderating the session, Bettina also spoke on Virginia Energy’s role and plans with the federal funding and the guidance currently available for HOMES/HEERHA.
- Andrew Grigsby, Viridiant: Andrew spoke on Viridiant’s success with the BENEFIT grant and how that can serve as a model for future programs. He also went into detail about the need for a unified customer experience that includes financing options available.
- Marco Rubin, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation: Marco discussed the startup environment since the passage of the inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including looking the economic conditions at the micro-, macro-, and Marco-levels.
- Joyce Bodoh, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: Given her role as the Director of Energy Solutions and Clean Energy at one of Virginia’s electric cooperatives, Joyce focused on how federal funding can be braided with the federal funding. She also spoke to the importance of customer data access and shared how REC’s summer savings pilot program provided $12k in bill credits to customers and saved REC $70K in wholesale power.
- Kim Strahm, Community Housing Partners: After having developed a successful workforce development program using funds from the 2009 ARRA, Kim shared best practices and lessons learned for developing and implementing programs using federal funding. Through CHP’s position on both the demand- and supply-side of high-performance buildings, Kim kept coming back to the need for a trained workforce.
As always, this event would not have been possible without our sponsors, speakers, and attendees. We would also like to thank the VAEEC Education & Events Committee for helping staff plan such a successful event.
Be sure to save the date for our fall Energy Efficiency Forum– October 4th (virtual), October 5th (in-person, University of Richmond). We hope to see you there.
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.
Virginia’s energy efficiency industry virtually gathered together to learn and connect at the VAEEC’s Spring 2021 Forum. Over 100 energy efficiency professionals participated in the event, which included three educational sessions, dedicated networking sessions, and our annual member meeting with Board elections. Attendees were treated to timely topics, including energy management systems, Virginia’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions and Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency program, and how the industry is still coping with the impacts of a global pandemic. We want to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors and speakers for their support, and to everyone who attended.
The event kicked off with our annual member meeting. This is a dedicated time where not only do we get to share VAEEC’s updates and accomplishments, but it’s a time for members to share their successes. Many of the organizational highlights can be found in our 2020 annual report, and our 2020 accomplishments blog post and video. Additionally, Board Chair John Morrill (Fairfax County) led our 2021 Board of Directors election. VAEEC members re-elected Michael Hubbard (Dominion Energy), David Koogler (Rappahannock Electric Cooperative), and John Morrill (Fairfax County). We also welcomed Tim Bernadowski (Siemens Industry) who took over Rick Counihan’s (Nest) seat, Carla Dix (Columbia Gas) who took over Susan Larsen’s (Columbia Gas) seat, and Carrie Webster (Henrico County) who took over Tom Nicholas’s (City of Virginia Beach) seat. We are excited to add these new voices to our leadership.
VAEEC’s biannual forums are known for their ability to bring together Virginia’s energy efficiency leaders to make valuable connections. Even with this year’s Spring Forum being virtual, we wanted to continue to provide this opportunity. Our virtual networking session allowed participants to join breakout rooms based on different topics: Building Codes & Performance, Innovation & Technology, Legislation & Policy, and Local Government Collaboration. Lively conversations arose and beneficial connections were made. Thank you Virginia Energy Sense for sponsoring this popular session.
Next, participants were able to attend one of three concurrent sessions: Using Energy Management Systems for Whole Building Efficiency, Making a Difference in Low-Income Housing: How the RGGI Auctions Affect EE Work, and Pandemic Problem Solving: Facing Energy Challenges Across Sectors. Click on a session title below to view the corresponding presentation. All attendees will receive an audio recording of each session.
Using Energy Management Systems for Whole Building Efficiency, moderated by Dawn Oleksy (City of Richmond), discussed the biggest challenges and opportunities with the installation, operation, and maintenance of energy management systems and the strategies for overcoming those obstacles. Panelists shared new trends and the future of energy management systems, including grid-interactive buildings. Speakers included Tim Bernadowski (Siemens Industry, VAEEC Board member), Lee Dunfee (Cushman & Wakefield), and Christopher Perry (ACEEE). This session was sponsored by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development.
Be careful of misinterpreting ASHRAE guidelines to mean you should simply bring a lot of outdoor air into your building, Tim Bernadowski of Siemens Industry says on our Whole Building Efficiency panel. More accurate: “Make sure you’ve got the correct outdoor air for your design.”
The Virginia RGGI auctions provide enormous potential to improve the Commonwealth’s low-income housing stock. During the session, Making a Difference in Low-Income Housing: How the RGGI Auctions Affect EE Work, panelists provided insights on program management, development, and the weatherization assistance and Affordable & Special Needs Housing programs. Speakers included Dan Farrell (Virginia Dept. of Housing & Community Development), Sunshine Mathon (Piedmont Housing Alliance), and Kerri Walker (Project:HOMES) and Lesley Fore (Community Housing Partners) moderated. The session was sponsored by the Piedmont Housing Alliance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-reaching effects on all sectors of the energy efficiency industry. During Pandemic Problem Solving: Facing Energy Challenges Across Sectors, panelists discussed the challenges and opportunities faced over the past year, and what they anticipate going forward. Speakers included Benjamin Knopp (Think Little), Cathy Lin (Arlington Public Schools), and Aaron Schneider (Metrus Energy), and Legih Anne Ratliff (CPower Energy Management) was the moderator. This session was sponsored by VEIC.
“There’s more money than ever for green projects,” says Aaron Schneider of Metrus Energy — from the government, asset managers and capital markets. It’s a “massive shift.”
As with all of our work, this event would not have been possible without the continued support of our members and sponsors. Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Spring Forum for helping us push energy efficiency toward an even brighter future.
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Save the date. Our Fall 2021 Forum will be held in Richmond on November 16th. The event will feature the Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards Ceremony and an industry Trade Show. We hope to see you there!
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!
Keynote Speaker: Patrick Bean of Tesla
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.
2019 VEEL Awards Winners
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.
Speakers on the Final Panel discussing the relationship between EE and resiliency
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.