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The Results are in – the City of Chicago Releases their first year of Benchmarking Data

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 18, 2014 - 3:19pm

Congratulations to the City of Chicago in the release of it’s first-ever energy benchmarking report from data collected under their Energy Benchmarking Ordinance! The 2014 City of Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking Report found millions of dollars in potential savings in the city’s largest, non-residential buildings. The findings are based on the first set of benchmarking data from 2013, provided by building owners and managers (or their representatives) who have measured, verified, and reported their energy usage with the free, web-based EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.

The citywide effort included 348 of Chicago’s largest buildings, representing 260 million square feet of space and approximately 11% of citywide building energy consumption. Following the ordinance language, owners of municipal and commercial buildings greater than 250,000 square feet submitted their previous year’s energy use. Unsurprisingly, Chicago reported a 90+% compliance rate among buildings covered by the ordinance.

Why isn’t it a surprise you ask? The City of Chicago’s benchmarking ordinance incorporated the perspectives from a large variety of stakeholders throughout the process. They merged viewpoints from these stakeholders into a cohesive law. Additional feedback was further embedded into the implementation process as a means to explain to the building community how they can most easily meet the ordinance requirements. This package of support included FAQ documents, a website, and a Help Center – was developed in tandem with a series of free, public training sessions (live and webcast). With MEEA’s assistance during this development, these devices helped support building owners through the quick process of collecting, processing, and reporting their data. It didn’t hurt that many of the initial stakeholders also became ambassadors of these supporting mechanisms.

Chicago’s report is also unique to other cities’ versions by the inclusion of perspectives of five different building owners. Viewpoints from owners or managers of a commercial office building, a City of Chicago K-12 school, a hospital, a university auditorium building, and the Museum of Science and Industry were noted throughout the report. Each highlighted building included a quote from the building manager, as well as a tip – describing an action that was already incorporated to assist in the reduction of energy consumption of the building. These viewpoints will aid current and future building owners understand the myriad of different options they can implement to achieve energy savings.

MEEA has been honored to work extensively with the City of Chicago and their partners throughout their process towards this first year of benchmarking data reporting or transparency. The second and thi
rd phases of the benchmarking ordinance implementation will run through 2016 to include commercial, municipal, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. MEEA will continue to play a role in supporting Chicago and other Midwest Cities develop t

heir benchmarking initiatives. For more information on how benchmarking can assist your city meet its sustainability goals and reduce overall energy use, contact Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.

11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards – Innovation

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 18, 2014 - 2:25pm

We would like to congratulate all the nominees who have made the shortlist for this year’s Inspiring Efficiency Award in the Innovation category. The variety and number of nominations we received this year was very impressive.

The Inspiring Efficiency through Innovation Award will be presented to the nominee that has developed and implemented a new and innovative program, idea or policy in the Midwest. While the concept of the program, idea or policy may have been implemented elsewhere, the applicant will need to clearly detail why the program, idea or policy and its impact is unique to the region and new to the marketplace.

  • AEP Ohio’s Continuous Energy Improvement Program (CEI)
  • AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency/Peak Demand Reduction (EE/PDR)
  • AEP Ohio, Lime Energy – Express Program
  • Bruner Corporation / Licking Heights School District
  • DesignLights Consortium Qualified Products List
  • DTE Energy / Energy Efficiency / DTE Insight
  • Focus On Energy – Multifamily Energy Savings Program
  • Focus On Energy – Large Energy Users (LEU)
  • Illinois Energy Now: Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Public Sector Energy Efficiency Program
  • Nicor Gas – Energy-Saving Kit Reachback Campaign
  • SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company
  • The Urbana-Champaign ENERGY STAR Challenge
  • Veritas Advisors
  • Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Enhanced Rewards Program

To find out who will take home this award, join us for the Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala during the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, January 29th. For more information, visit the conference website: www.meeaconference.org.

Upcoming Webinar on Public Sector Energy Data Collection and Tracking

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 18, 2014 - 10:20am

Implementing a robust and comprehensive energy tracking and measurement process can be a challenge. A webinar on December 18th at 1pm CST will cover DOE’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Office’s step-by-step guide with best practices for state and local governments and school districts. The presentation will also demonstrate the value of an energy data tracking effort.

Specifically, the guide addresses the following topics:

  1. Creating a comprehensive energy asset inventory
  2. Streamlining access to utility data
  3. Leveraging data management tools
  4. Optimizing the organizational structure for portfolio-wide energy data tracking
  5. Driving engagement and communicating results

This presentation will include an overview of the upcoming document, “Best Practices in Energy Data Collection and Tracking in the Public Sector.” The webinar will feature the US Department of Energy’s Mona Khalil (who was featured during the MEEA Benchmarking and Codes Conference) and the guide that she developed on this topic, as well as Jeff Hamman, the Energy Specialist with Portland Public Schools in Oregon. Jeff will showcase the school district’s efforts of energy data management (collection and use). The webinar is being presented through DOE’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP), and is available to anyone interested in learning about data collection, use of the information, and how to manage it in ongoing operations.

Find out more about the event here. For more information on collecting building energy data contact Steve Kismohr, MEEA’s Senior Technical Manager, at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.


11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards – Impact

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 8, 2014 - 10:56am

As MEEA continues its preparations for the 2015 MES Conference we are proud to present the nominees for the Inspiring Efficiency Award in the Impact category.

The Inspiring Efficiency Impact Award will be presented to the organization that has made a significant contribution to market transformation either through the implementation of a specific program or through a policy change. The applicant will need to clearly demonstrate the measurable & significant impact that the program or policy has had on reducing energy consumption, altering public behaviors/practices, and/or increasing the market penetration of energy-efficient products and technologies in the Midwest. This award covers the residential, commercial, institutional, agricultural and industrial sectors.

  • AEP Ohio’s Data Center Program
  • Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy® All Electric Homes (AEH) Program
  • Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy®  Small Business Direct Install (SBDI) Program
  • City of Chicago, Retrofit Chicago Program
  • City of Minneapolis
  • ComEd Smart Ideas® Small Business Energy Savings (SBES) Geo-targeted Campaigns
  • Dayton Power and Light (DP&L)
  • Focus on Energy: Chain Stores and Franchises Program
  • Focus on Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resource Program
  • Focus on Energy: Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program
  • Illinois Energy Now: Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Public Sector Energy Efficiency Program
  • Illinois Public Housing Authority Efficient Living Energy Program (ILPHA)
  • Michigan Electric Cooperative Association
  • Nicor Gas – energySMART
  • NTC’s Trickle Up! Program
  • Urban Innovations, Ltd.

To find out who will take home this award, join us for the Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala during the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, January 29th. For more information, visit the conference website: www.mwalliance.org/conference/.

MEEA Policy Webinar: The New Political Landscape for Energy Efficiency in the Midwest

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 2, 2014 - 2:21pm

Wednesday, December 10

10:00 – 11:30 am CST

Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/200000000028861204


Join MEEA as we take a deeper look at the post-election political landscape throughout the Midwest region. This webinar will outline the results of the November 2014 elections, including gubernatorial and state legislative elections, along with public utility commission appointments. We will discuss existing legislation and how the elections could potentially impact energy efficiency policy decisions in the Midwest.

MEEA’s staff will also unveil our new Advocacy Toolkit, a suite of resources housed on MEEA’s website that can be used by members and affiliates to make the case for energy efficiency as the least cost resource for the Midwest. The toolkit will include fact sheets, case studies, and contact information for key policymakers by state. The web-based resource will also feature a messaging document to refute common attacks on energy efficiency and sample letters to the editor and elected officials that can be used to advocate for energy efficiency throughout the Midwest.

MEEA Policy Webinar: ACEEE 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard – A Midwest Review

MEEA Unplugged Blog - December 1, 2014 - 1:40pm

Wednesday, December 3

1:00 – 2:00 pm CST

Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8298071791992522498

Join MEEA for a review of the Midwest states’ progress in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The annual scorecard provides a benchmark for states’ progress with energy efficiency policies and programs, and offers a toolkit for policymakers to increase savings from energy efficiency investments in their state. States are scored across six policy areas, including: utility policies and programs, transportation initiatives, building energy codes, development of combined heat and power, state government-led initiatives, and state-level appliance standards.

Annie Gilleo, State Policy Research Analyst with ACEEE and lead author of the 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, will provide an overview of the Scorecard and methodology used, along with a review of the Midwest states’ rankings. Lee Colten, Assistant Director with Kentucky’s Department for Energy Development and Independence, will present on the state’s recent progress with building energy code adoption and compliance efforts. Jessica Burdette, CIP Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, will highlight the state’s leadership in the areas of utility energy efficiency programs and state government initiatives.




11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards – Education

MEEA Unplugged Blog - November 19, 2014 - 9:58am

In conjunction with the 2015 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, MEEA is proud to host the 11th annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards. With a remarkable 61 nominations this year, we will be recognizing standouts in five categories:

  • Leadership
  • Education
  • Impact
  • Marketing
  • Innovation

Leading up to the conference, we will be highlighting the nominees in each category.

The Inspiring Efficiency Education Award will be presented to the organization that has developed and implemented a local campaign, program, strategy, or idea to increase knowledge and action on energy efficiency. Applicants should describe how their campaign, program, strategy, or idea—though local in scope—is an example for the region.

We are honored to present the following as the 2015 nominees for this award:

  • Efficiency Smart Super Energy Heroes Summer Camps
  • EnergySmarts Publications, a DTE Energy energy efficiency publication series
  • KSBA’s School Energy Managers Project (SEMP)
  • Lansing Board of Water & Light – Recycle Rama event
  • The Michigan Commercial & Industrial Energy Conference, MCIEC
  • Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program
  • QA Graphics
  • Resource Action Programs (RAP)
  • Think! Energy Michigan Collaboration (National Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy)

To find out who will take home this award, join us for the Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala during the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, January 29th. For more information, visit the conference website: www.mwalliance.org/conference/.

Cook County, IL passes Building Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

MEEA Unplugged Blog - November 17, 2014 - 10:55am

The Illinois Association of County Board Members publication, “Illinois County Magazine” Fall 2014 issue features an article on the Cook County, IL enacting an Building Energy Benchmarking Ordinance. This initiative requires the county to track the annual energy and water use of its buildings that are larger than 35,000 sqft.

The ordinance also requires an annual report of the data to be reported to the public. MEEA presented Cook County’s President Toni Preckwinkle with a 2014 Inspiring Efficiency Leadership Award for her commitment to improving energy efficiency in county government buildings. This ordinance shows continuous improvement of the county towards holistic energy reduction in their buildings.

Read more on the ordinance here: http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/CBMB/CBMB0214/index.php?startid=25

BOC Veterans Program Proud to Support US Veterans

MEEA Unplugged Blog - November 11, 2014 - 1:20pm

The State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) have teamed up to help unemployed and underemployed military veterans in Illinois earn the nationally-recognized Building Operator Certification (BOC®) and transition to civilian careers in facilities management. BOC increases job competitiveness and supports placement in the high growth green jobs sector by arming participants with hands on skills that allow them to achieve cost and energy savings from the first day of classes.

The program directly addresses the issue of high unemployment among Illinois veterans by providing full tuition scholarships for technical operations and maintenance training to eligible underemployed or unemployed veterans. According to the Council of Economic Advisors, in October 2013 the unemployment rate for all veterans was at 6.9 percent, 10 percent for post- 9/11 veterans.

One underemployed veteran Michael Weist recently completed the Building Operator Certification Level II program at Lincoln Land Community College.

“I think it was a great program,” Michael said. “I really learned a lot. I liked the diversity of topics the program covered and the different perspectives from multiple instructors and hearing their experience. I especially enjoyed learning more ways to save money for facilities. I already had a background in lighting, but I learned a lot about HVAC systems.”

Veterans who qualify for BOC attend eight days of technical training and complete five hands-on projects with the assistance of mentors like ComEd. Mentorships are coordinated by MEEA to support the participants throughout the program. MEEA works with Veteran Program Employment Partners Franklin Energy, CLEAResult, Ecova, Lockheed Martin, Nexant, and Illinois AMVETS to provide resources like resume reviews, internship opportunities, job postings, and career guidance to assist veterans in their job search. The project partners are now working with the veterans to pursue full-time employment in building operations and maintenance.

BOC Illinois spring classes start in January of 2015 and will be held in Springfield, Chicago, and Glen Ellyn.  For more information about BOC or to register for classes, please visit www.BOCcentral.org. To apply as an underemployed or unemployed veteran or to become an Employment Partner or Mentor, please contact Jennifer Allen at (312) 784-7243 or jallen@mwalliance.org.

The BOC Veterans Program is made available through funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) State Energy Office as part of the Illinois Energy Now Program.


Photo supplied by BOC Veteran Program graduate, Alex Dawson

MEEA Webinar: Better Buildings, Better Plants – 3M Company Spotlight

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 22, 2014 - 8:03am

Join MEEA on Thursday, October 23, 2014, 1:00-2:00pm CDT for a U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, with a spotlight on 3M. Register here. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is a voluntary partnership initiative to drive significant energy efficiency improvement across U.S. industry. More than 140 leading manufacturers are partnering with DOE through Better Plants to improve efficiency, cut energy costs and carbon emissions. Through this program, leading manufacturers partner with DOE to improve their energy intensity by 25% over ten years, develop energy management plans, and track and report their annual progress.
Join MEEA as we take a deeper look into the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program and 3M’s industrial efficiency accomplishments. Andre de Fontaine, with DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, will provide an overview of the program, share benefits of joining, and highlight successes to date. Steve Schultz, Corporate Energy Manager for 3M, will discuss the company’s participation in Better Plants and ISO 50001, and present a review of recent company energy efficiency initiatives.

MEEA Webinar: Energy Efficiency Appliance Standards

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 21, 2014 - 8:33am
Join us Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 1:00 – 2:00pm CDT for a webinar on Energy Efficiency Appliance Standards. Register here. 

National energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting products and equipment specify the minimum energy and/or water efficiency levels of specific products. The U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for reviewing and updating all national efficiency standards to keep pace with technological change. While national standards apply to products manufactured or imported for sale into the U.S., state legislatures can also set standards that apply to products sold or installed in a given state.

Marianne DiMascio, with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, will present an overview of national appliance and equipment standards finalized this year. In addition, she will provide an overview of state standards activity, the energy savings achieved from existing standards, and the potential for additional savings from new and updated standards. Rich Hackner, with GDS Associates, Inc., will provide a Midwest perspective and demonstrate how federal appliance standards impact Ameren Illinois’ energy efficiency program offerings for C&I prescriptive and custom programs.

DOE’s New Solution Center Shares Proven Energy Efficiency Program Strategies

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 20, 2014 - 9:39am

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching the new Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center which highlights successful strategies and solutions used by residential energy efficiency programs across the country. Through the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, utility-sponsored programs, and other initiatives, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and multifamily buildings. To share the innovations and lessons learned from these efforts, DOE has compiled a one-stop shop for residential energy efficiency program administrators and home performance professionals.

The Solution Center is organized into a series of handbooks—concise online resources with step-by-step guidance for planning, operating, and evaluating a residential energy efficiency program. Each handbook draws on the experiences of multiple programs and contains resources such as tools, calculators, publications, videos, presentations, and case studies.

  • Market Position & Business Model handbooks describe how to assess current and potential demand for energy efficiency products and services (e.g., home energy assessments and upgrades; loans or financing products; contractor training) and what factors influence this demand.
  • Program Design & Customer Experience handbooks explore how to create a customer-centric process by bringing together marketing and outreach, incentives, financing, contractor coordination, and data collection to provide products and services that customers want.
  • Marketing & Outreach handbooks discuss ways to spur demand for home energy upgrades by understanding target audiences and using effective messaging, marketing and outreach tactics, and attractive program offers to motivate them to act.
  • Financing handbooks provide guidance for creating loan products that help customers pay for home energy upgrades in ways that are also affordable for programs and contractors.
  • Contractor Engagement & Workforce Development handbooks describe how to design a program that provides value for contractors by aligning with their business cycles and supporting workforce training.
  • Evaluation & Data Collection handbooks outline ways to develop effective data collection and evaluation strategies in order to understand the effects of a program.

To ensure the Solution Center remains a valuable resource for programs and home performance professionals into the future, DOE invites users to explore the new tool and suggest additional content or materials for possible inclusion by emailing BBRPSolutionCenter@ee.doe.gov.

DTE Energy Efficiency Summit Today

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 14, 2014 - 9:13am

MEEA member, DTE Energy, will host an Energy Efficiency Summit for businesses today in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The summit is free to attend, and will be held at the Eberhard Conference Center at Grand Valley State University.  The purpose of the summit is to help business owners improve their bottom line. DTE Energy plans to aid businesses by informing them of the energy efficiency programs and incentives that are available to them.

With last year’s severe winter, including record-breaking lows, DTE Energy wants to support their business customers in preparing for the winter. This means taking advantage of available energy efficiency programs and incentives.  At the Summit, DTE Energy will provide information on low-cost energy efficiency solutions that save natural gas, as well as high-impact improvements such us HVAC system upgrades, insulation, and boilers. Business owners across all sectors will learn about low-cost and high-impact improvements that can make any business more efficient and comfortable.

Summit participants will also hear about the latest updates to DTE’s Energy Optimization Program and find out how they can participate in 2015. The summit will explore a large range of energy efficiency solutions in three categories:  popular improvements, bundled measures, and proactive steps.  Popular improvements include rooftop and boiler unit tune-ups, insulation, and pipe wrapping. Bundled measures include combining efficiency measures to achieve larger savings through DTE’s multi-measure bonus incentive. Proactive Steps prepare customers for winter weather with low-cost and simple steps to ensure facilities lower their heating costs. More information on DTE Energy can be found at www.dteenergy.com, more information on the Energy Efficiency Summit can be found at www.dteenergysummit.com.

MEEA Member Wins Prestigious DOE Award

MEEA Unplugged Blog - September 24, 2014 - 9:35am

MEEA is proud to announce that Green Energy Improvement, a MEEA Member and Participating Contractor with the Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program, has been recognized with a Housing Innovation Award by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The winners were announced on September 25 at the Excellence in Building Conference put on by the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) in St. Louis, Missouri. According to the DOE, the awards “recognize leaders from a number of Building Technologies Office residential programs including the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, and Building America Top Innovations.”

Working in partnership with Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, a program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and coordinated by MEEA, Green Energy Improvement has become a leader in innovative marketing and outreach strategies.  This women-owned business is led by a family with a long history of success in the construction, financing, and real estate industries, and has been a Participating Contractor with Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR since program launch, earning the very first Illinois Home Performance Silver Certificate of Completion.

MEEA and DCEO nominated Green Energy Improvement for their strong leadership in promoting a whole-home approach to home performance in the highly competitive Chicagoland region, as well as their commitment to advancing the Illinois Home Performance program’s most innovative features, such as the Certificate of Completion and outreach to the real estate community. Read more about the Housing Innovation Awards and Green Energy Improvement by visiting energy.gov/eere/buildings/housing-innovation-awards and greenenergyimprovement.com. For more information on the Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, visit www.illinoishomeperformance.org.



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