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Energy Efficiency Highlighted at the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference

MEEA Unplugged Blog - April 14, 2015 - 3:58pm

The Missouri Department of Economic Development, Columbia Water and Light, and the University of Missouri hosted the annual Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference on April 6-7, 2015. In its tenth year, the conference continues to promote discussion on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, policies and projects in the Midwest.  This year, the conference included presentations on electric vehicles, community solar, Missouri’s potential for biomass, and the successful implementation of energy efficiency programs and policies.

In particular, Dennis Murphey, Chief Environmental Officer for Kansas City, presented on Kansas City’s major advancements in educating building owners on energy efficiency and their further plans to promote benchmarking using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager ® through the City Energy Project, a 3-year initiative to improve energy efficiency in large commercial, institutional and multi-family buildings.

MEEA program and policy staff attended and interacted with ongoing partners at the conference, such as the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the City of Columbia, and Honeywell.

Visit www.advancingrenewables.org for more information on next year’s conference.

Illinois Home Performance receives the EPA’s 2015 Partner of the Year Award

MEEA Unplugged Blog - April 10, 2015 - 11:10am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the Illinois Energy & Recycling Office at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) with a 2015 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award for its work on the Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. DCEO’s accomplishments will be recognized in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2014.

DCEO sponsors Illinois Home Performance, a statewide program coordinated by MEEA that helps Illinois homeowners improve the comfort, safety, value, and efficiency of their homes. To date, Illinois Home Performance has awarded Silver and Gold Certificates of Completion to over 5,100 Illinois homeowners. The program has also trained hundreds of home performance contractors in advanced building science and has educated hundreds of real estate professionals about the value of energy efficiency in Illinois homes.

“There’s a big difference in air movement in my home. You used to feel the cold air coming in and moving through the house, and you don’t feel that chill anymore,” attests Ann Robertson, a Springfield homeowner who received an Illinois Home Performance Certificate. Ms. Robertson took advantage of utility rebates to offset the cost of her home energy upgrade. She worked with Green Home Weatherization, a qualified contractor, to install insulation and seal the leaks where heated air once escaped to the outside.

Since its inception in 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped prevent a total of more than two billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2013 alone, ENERGY STAR and its partners provided more than $11 billion in societal benefits due to reducing damages from climate change.

ENERGY STAR has 16,000 partners working to protect the environment through greater energy efficiency, including manufacturers, retailers, public schools, hospitals, real estate companies, and home builders.

For a complete list of 2015 winners and information, and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit www.energystar.gov/awardwinners.

For more information about Illinois Home Performance, visit www.illinoishomeperformance.org or call the Illinois Home Performance hotline at (866) 395-1032.

New Tomorrows for Today’s Buildings: Existing Building Commissioning Webinar

MEEA Unplugged Blog - April 1, 2015 - 10:32am

The term commissioning comes from shipbuilding. A commissioned ship is one deemed ready for service. Before being awarded this title, however, a ship must pass several milestones. Equipment is installed and tested, problems are identified and corrected, and the prospective crew is extensively trained. A commissioned ship, like a commissioned building, is one whose materials, systems, and staff have successfully completed a thorough quality assurance process. For buildings, the commissioning process can occur upon the ‘launch’ of the building, as well as on a regular basis. For existing buildings, the term is slightly modified to ‘retro-commissioning,’ or even ReCx. This process is used to adjust or finely tune equipment to ensure that the building continues to operate as the owner intended, as well as with the efficiencies incorporated into the original design.

ASHRAE’s upcoming webcast, titled New Tomorrows for Today’s Buildings: Existing Building Commissioning, will broadcast live on April 23, 2015, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm EDT. This free presentation will feature industry experts who will define the benefits of building commissioning for the environment, occupants, operations staff, and overall ownership costs. Viewers will be able to recognize the varied scopes of commissioning, when to apply comprehensive versus focused commissioning, and best practices in existing building commissioning specifications & contracting.

“The speakers will distinguish between new building commissioning, existing building commissioning, and retro-commissioning,” said Nathan Hart, Chair of the ASHRAE CTTC Webcast Ad Hoc Committee. “Viewers will learn how to manage the commissioning process to minimize the impact on building functions and occupants, and how to integrate elements of existing building commissioning into the operation and maintenance staff’s daily activities.” The focus of the presentation will be on maximizing energy efficiency and return on investment or ROI.

For more information on the webcast program, continuing education credits, and ASHRAE resources related to existing building commissioning, see https://www.ashrae.org/membership–conferences/webcasts. For more information on tracking and improving existing buildings in the Midwest, contact MEEA’s Senior Technical Manager – Steve Kismohr at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.


BOC Graduates provide benchmarking services for the City of Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance

MEEA Unplugged Blog - March 19, 2015 - 11:15am

Chicago’s Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance calls on existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to track whole-building energy use, report to the City annually, and verify data accuracy every three years. The data verification is required to be completed by an in-house or third-party licensed professional, and MEEA’s BOC credential is one of six credentials recognized by the City of Chicago for data verification.

In 2014, nonresidential buildings over 250,000SF were required to comply, and all six of the city-recognized credentials were used for data verification for these facilities, including the Building Operator Certification (BOC) credential offered by MEEA. A total of 71 unique individuals verified data of 300+ buildings; the BOC credential was held by 8% of the verifiers and those individuals verified 8% of the 2014 reporting buildings.

In 2015, the second phase of the City’s initiative will be implemented. This year all commercial and municipal buildings from 50,000 – 250,000 square feet and residential buildings over 250,000 square feet will be required to benchmark, verify, and report for the first time, greatly increasing the number of buildings reporting under the ordinance. Some of the large 250,000 square feet buildings classified as “residential” under the ordinance have more than 10% of residential occupancy included with other commercial uses. One of these mixed-use buildings, the John Hancock building, has BOC operators employed in it who will be involved with the reporting and verification this year.

MEEA continues to coordinate with partners to provide educational sessions on how BOC graduates and other energy professionals can take advantage of this opportunity and provide benchmarking and data verification services.

For information on upcoming educational sessions or to sign up for a BOC class, please visit www.boccentral.org or contact Jenn Allen at jallen@mwalliance.org or (312) 784-7243.

Advanced Outdoor Lighting Shines Brighter with the Presidential Challenge Launch

MEEA Unplugged Blog - March 19, 2015 - 9:55am

During 2015 alone, outdoor lighting in the U.S. will consume about 100 TWh of electricity, enough energy to power roughly 6 million homes (one terawatt hour equals about one trillion watt hours). This electricity consumption alone, costs cities a cumulative total of about $10 billion annually. As a means to keep budgets intact, many cities are turning to LED, or Light Emitting Diode, street lighting projects to reduce their energy costs while improving the quality and effectiveness of outdoor lighting.

Many U.S. jurisdictions have already retrofitted their incandescent traffic signal lighting to LEDs in the last 5-10 years. LED street lighting fixtures are the next gateway to energy savings, with many installations currently underway throughout the Midwest, from  Detroit to Ann Arbor to the Kansas City region. However, many municipalities are interested in retrofitting their low/high pressure sodium fixtures for a variety of reasons beyond the energy savings. Using today’s LED technology combined with integrated control strategies, local governments can cut their outdoor lighting bills by 50 percent or more. Some entities see these retrofit projects as a means to revitalize aging infrastructure or bring higher levels of safety to areas not yet serviced by streetlighting. Others see the revenue-generating possibilities of integrating fiber optic cabling, telecommunications, air quality sensors, or other technology within street lighting fixture projects.

The Obama White House is working with mayors to determine how best to capture the potential of LEDs to light their cities while continuing to saving money. They have recently issued the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting to encourage more mayors to upgrade 1.5 million street lighting poles to include LED fixtures – essentially tripling the original DOE Better Buildings program goal of upgrading 500,000 fixtures. LED light bulbs are an example of a lighting success story that, when taken to the streets, makes a lot of sense. The technology has rapidly improved over the past several years, and the price has dropped. As the technology advances, communities are installing LEDs, and showcasing market acceptance and satisfaction with the technology for even greater savings.

We are excited to recognize the cities stepping up to the Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Outdoor Lighting Accelerator, MEEA is assisting cities with technical expertise and sharing the experiences of leading cities to accelerate the deployment of highly efficient lighting. All the while, MEEA is helping realize energy and cost savings for Midwest communities of all sizes.

For more information on street lighting technology and gaining recognition for your municipality, contact: Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager, at skismohr@mwalliance.org or Rose Jordan, Program Manager, at rjordan@mwalliance.org.

The Better Buildings Summit is Posed to Celebrate Huge Success on May 27-29

MEEA Unplugged Blog - March 16, 2015 - 10:45am

The Better Buildings Challenge is a program created by the federal Department of Energy to support commercial and industrial building owners interested in reducing their energy use by providing technical assistance and proven solutions. Partners include city and state governments, school districts, manufacturers, affordable and market rate multi-family owners, as well as data center owners. The Challenge also includes Allies, mainly comprised of utilities and financial lending institutions, who are matched to Partners to enhance collaboration and problem solving towards higher energy efficiency outcomes.

Organizations who commit to the Better Buildings Challenge pledge to save at reduce the energy used across their entire building portfolio by 20 percent or more over ten years. By accepting the free and available assistance, these organizations also commit to transparently showcase the solutions they used and the results they achieve. Currently 3.5 Billion square feet of Partner commercial and industrial space has been enrolled in the program to date, while $2 Billion in financing from program Allies has been made available to Partners. Importantly, both Partners and Allies are publically recognized for their leadership and innovation in energy efficiency.

The yearly Better Buildings Summit gathers Partners and Allies together share ideas and celebrate the successes within one conference. This year, the event is expanding to include new sectors and further engage in a diverse set of market leaders. It is predicted to bring over 800 partners and stakeholders in Washington D.C. on May 27-29 to participate in two and a half days of sessions. These panels and related meetings will focus on the sharing the most successful strategies for achieving energy savings through energy efficiency and will include topics such as finance, data access, high-impact technologies, and portfolio-wide strategies. Program Allies, including utilities and financial lending institutions, will be in attendance and present effective solutions they have achieved in the last year. This year, the Summit will also offer sessions for residential energy professionals.

A limited number of travel stipends and registration scholarships are available for state and local government and K-12 school districts to attend. If you have an existing grant agreement with DOE, please consider using available administrative funds to pay the registration fee and travel costs associated with your attendance. As you register for the conference, please indicate your interest in financial assistance.

MEEA will be attending the event and participating in some of the presentations and associated meetings on the topic of energy data access. We will also be involved with case studies on developing internal organization processes to track energy consumption in buildings. For more information on the Better Buildings Challenge contact Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager at 312.784.7257 or skismohr@mwalliance.org.

CP EnMS Training Recap

MEEA Unplugged Blog - March 13, 2015 - 12:07pm

MEEA was excited to have the opportunity to partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology Professional Education and the Institute for Energy Management Professionals (IEnMP) to host MEEA’s pilot Certified Practitioner in Energy Management Systems (CP EnMS) training at the end of last month. This four day intensive training was successful in preparing thirteen energy professionals for the ANSI accredited CP EnMS exam. Upon passing the exam, these professionals will receive their CP EnMS certification and be qualified to lead an industrial organization through the development and maintenance of an energy management system; helping to meet ISO 50001 requirements and prepare for Superior Energy Performance (SEP). Their contact information can be found on the IEnMP website, here, upon graduation.

The CP EnMS class (shown above) of thirteen energy professionals from seven different states in the US, and one from India, left the training knowing more about MEEAs role in the Midwest, ISO 5001, and Superior Energy Performance. The training covered a wide range of topics including but not limited to: energy models, managing energy demand, problem solving skills, operating characteristics of key energy using systems, system optimization, regulatory requirements, instrumentation and controls, data collection and use, and fundamentals of business decision making in the industrial sector.

The class was led by two experienced instructors from Georgia Tech., Bill Meffert and Frederick Green (shown above). They were able to create collaboration among the participants and bring in personal experience to build on the material covered in the training.

Considering the success of this pilot CP EnMS training, MEEA will be offering additional classes in 2015. If you have questions, or would like to be considered for the next CP EnMS training, please contact Jenn Allen at jallen@mwalliance.org or (312) 784-7243.

Missouri Launches Home Energy Certification Program

MEEA Unplugged Blog - March 12, 2015 - 3:37pm

On February 20, Governor Jay Nixon announced the Missouri Home Energy Certification (MHEC) – a voluntary program designed to recognize homes that have received energy efficiency upgrades. Homeowners in Missouri can access these certificates through participating in an approved Missouri energy efficiency program, making upgrades that are identified in an energy audit, or receiving a rating through one of many well-known energy rating systems.

The MHEC program uses a two-tiered certification approach, issuing Silver and Gold Certificates to homeowners. Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, a program that MEEA coordinates on behalf of the Illinois Energy & Recycling Office, also issues Silver and Gold Certificates to homeowners. Having these two levels of certification helps celebrate homeowners who have made moderate energy improvements to their homes with Silver Certificates while also encouraging them to undertake deeper energy retrofit projects to earn the Gold Certificate.

Common home energy improvements include measures such as air sealing and installing insulation in attics and walls – measures that are largely invisible without climbing into the attic or drilling holes in the walls. Certificate programs such as the MHEC and Illinois Home Performance communicate these upgrades to the potential homebuyers, demonstrating the increased comfort, durability, and efficiency of homes that have Certificates. Recent research suggests that third-party green certifications may help homes sell faster or for a premium.

MEEA coordinated the stakeholder process for the MHEC program in 2013 and wrote the initial guidelines for the program. For information on how MEEA can coordinate your stakeholder process or create a third-party certification program in your area, contact Kelsey Horton at khorton@mwalliance.org

Funding for High Efficiency Street Lighting in Illinois

MEEA Unplugged Blog - February 25, 2015 - 4:01pm

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has released a grant opportunity for Illinois public entities who are interested in upgrading their municipal owned and operated streetlights. As part of their Street and Roadway Lighting Pilot Program, this grant opportunity is an excellent method to start a retrofit pilot project converting existing streetlights to LEDs, possibly even including adaptive controls for dimming. Requirement is for the public entity to own their own streetlights or the portion of streetlights included in the grant must be owned by the public entity.

The grant provides up to $25,000 for development of a new Pilot Program for energy efficient street and roadway lighting improvement. These funds can be combined with DCEO Illinois Energy Now Incentives to cover up to 100% of total project cost.

The intent of the Pilot Program is to evaluate fixture performance and better understand project costs and energy savings. Grants may pay for upgrades to the fixture (lamps, ballasts and/or controls) in street and/or roadway outdoor lighting systems that reduce electricity consumption. Grants are only made available to projects that are no further along than the lighting evaluation and design stage. Replacement of poles, arms, foundations and other required infrastructure equipment to accommodate the new lamp fixture is not eligible. Project applications are due by March 13, 2015.

For more information, see http://www.illinoiscleanenergy.org/street-roadway-lighting-program/
For additional resources and assistance in municipal lighting projects, speak with Steve Kismohr, Sr. Technical Manager, skismohr@mwalliance.org or Rose Jordan, Programs Manager – Lighting and Education, rjordan@mwalliance.org.

Midwest LUMEN: Connecting Peers Across Midwest Utility Lighting Programs

MEEA Unplugged Blog - February 17, 2015 - 10:55am

Midwest LUMEN January Meeting

On January 27 and 28, 2015, representatives from eight Midwest utilities (including MEEA Members Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Dayton Power & Light, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, EKPC,  and MidAmerican Energy, as well as Kansas City Power and Light) met in Chicago to discuss advanced lighting and advanced lighting controls programs. Topics varied from NEEP’s Commercial Advanced Lighting Controls (CALC) initiative, to midstream market efforts, to marketing advanced lighting programs and more. Once again, this proved an excellent forum for information sharing across utility boundaries.

Advanced Lighting Reception and 2015 Midwest Advanced Lighting Solutions Guide

Midwest LUMEN Members were joined by more than 30 additional lighting stakeholders and MEEA staff for the January 27 Advanced Lighting Reception where MEEA officially released the 2015 edition of the Midwest Advanced Lighting Solutions Guide, featuring solutions from MEEA members Ecova and TCP Lighting. Members had a great time meeting old and new friends and energy efficiency colleagues from around the Midwest (and the country) before the launch of the 2014 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. MEEA’s Interim Deputy Director, Bill Angelos and Midwest LUMEN Chair and MEEA Board Member Vicki Campbell offered warm welcoming remarks, speaking to the important role that groups like Midwest LUMEN have on fostering greater collaboration across the region.

About Midwest LUMEN

Midwest LUMEN connects utility employees to share information, leverage resources, engage in strategic planning and coordinate program efforts; helps utilities hit aggressive efficiency targets; and delivers targeted information from leaders throughout the advanced lighting industry to the network.

The group meets tri-annually and is currently open to utility employees from throughout MEEA’s Midwest footprint. Contact Rose Jordan at rjordan@mwalliance.org for more information.

Innovative Projects Engage Consumers, Businesses in Energy Savings via Technology Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s Inspiring Efficiency Award Winners Celebrated

MEEA Unplugged Blog - February 12, 2015 - 3:47pm

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) celebrates nine winners that helped Midwestern businesses and consumers save energy and money in new and innovative ways. The recipients of MEEA’s 2015 Inspiring Efficiency Awards include:

  • The development of an interactive smart phone app, which allows residential electric customers to see their energy usage in real-time.
  • An initiative that has helped to make Chicago a more affordable, competitive and sustainable city.
  • An industry leader who developed and managed an energy efficiency program portfolio that achieved the highest natural gas savings in the U.S.
  • Innovative new program to advance energy efficiency in low income housing, saving residents energy and money.

“These organizations, programs and individuals showcase the many benefits of energy efficiency, from saving money for consumers and businesses, to saving energy and creating new technologies and innovative programs,” said MEEA Interim Executive Director Stacey Paradis. “MEEA is pleased to recognize this group of winners as part of the 11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards’”

The winners were honored at the Inspiring Efficiency Awards dinner and gala on Thursday, Jan. 29, during MEEA’s 13th annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference (www.mwalliance.org/conference/). The three-day conference, which ended Jan. 30 and was hosted at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, is the largest regional energy efficiency conference in the Midwest. The event brings together a broad range of private and public sector thought leaders in energy strategy, policy, technology and program design and implementation.

The Inspiring Efficiency Awards competition recognizes Midwest energy efficiency leaders in five categories: Leadership, Education, Impact, Innovation and Marketing. MEEA also honors one winner with the Inspiring Efficiency Chairman’s Award. Award recipients for 2015 included:

  • Education Award:
    • Nicor Gas won for its “What’s in the Box?” campaign that creatively simplified energy efficiency for homeowners and encouraged participation in Nicor Gas’ cost and energy saving programs.
  • Impact Awards:
    • The Illinois Public Housing Authority Efficient Living Program by the Illinois Public Housing Authority through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture is one of the few public sector programs in the nation to influence energy and cost saving measures at local public housing authorities. The program helped install 97,510 energy saving measures at 52 of 99 public housing authorities in Illinois.
    • Retrofit Chicago by the City of Chicago won for its role in helping to drive energy efficiency improvements, and associated cost savings, job creation and greenhouse gas reductions, in Chicago’s residential, commercial and municipal sectors.
  • Innovation Award:
    • AEP Ohio was honored for its Continuous Energy Improvement Program, one of the first Strategic Energy Management Programs in the U.S. to apply a full treatment of energy use in large industrial facilities.
    • DTE Energy was celebrated for its DTE insight app, which allows customers to see their energy usage in real-time allowing them to change their habits, saving more money and energy.
  • Marketing Award:
    • Nicor Gas also won for its Customer Journey Strategy. The strategy involved examining program interactions, removing barriers to participation, and redesigning marketing, outreach and communications strategies, to be customer-centered.
  • Leadership Award:
    • Carol Stemrich, demand side manager for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, won the leadership award for playing a key role in launching Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency program. Carol’s vision and passion helped establish Wisconsin as a national leader in energy efficiency.
    • Jim Jerozal, managing director of energy efficiency at Nicor Gas, was honored for developing a program portfolio that resulted in more natural gas savings last year than any other energy efficiency program in the U.S.
  • Chairman’s Award:
    • Tim Melloch, retired director of energy efficiency services at ComEd, became known as the ComEd Energy Doctor. He is honored for his role in managing one of the nation’s largest and most cost-effective energy efficiency portfolios, and for his role in helping ComEd customers reduce energy consumption by approximately 8.5 million MWh and save more than $800 million on their electric bills. The former chairman of the board of MEEA retired from ComEd in August 2014.

View the Storify recap from that evening.

More information about the Inspiring Efficiency Awards and this year’s recipients can be found at www.meeaconference.org.

2015 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference Recap

MEEA Unplugged Blog - February 3, 2015 - 5:52pm

Thanks to all who attended the 13th Annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference last week in Chicago. More than 600 energy leaders from throughout the nation at the Chicago Hilton and Towers to explore energy issues.

Last week’s conference addressed emerging energy industry trends, taking on critical questions such as:
• How can utilities turn consumer interest in energy efficiency into long-term action?
• Why is it important for businesses and governments to make energy efficiency investments part of long-term strategies?
• What are the challenges and solutions to saving energy in Midwestern agricultural operations?
• What is Utility 2.0 and is it the utility business model of the future?

Other conference highlights included:

Wednesday, Jan. 28
• Keynote remarks by Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Director for the Office of Air and Radiation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
• Energy Efficiency and the Clean Power Plan: A Choose Your Own Adventure for States: With the release of the U.S. EPA’s draft Clean Power Plan, states will need to weigh supply- and demand-side options in relation to one another. Panelists including Doug Scott, former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, and Philip Mihlmester, ICF International executive vice president, explored the factors that influence these decisions including resource potential, costs and reliability impacts.
• Under the Influence: How are Behavior Change Programs Going beyond Initial Influence to Achieve Sustained Energy Savings?: Social marketing and customized data have the power to catch community interest, but how can utilities turn that interest into long-term action? This panel looked at several emerging behavior-changing programs and the tactics used to leverage momentum into persistent savings.

Thursday, Jan. 29
• The Brave New World of Integrated Efficiency: Panelists discussed the potential for Integrated Efficiency in the Midwest and activities that could result in a large expansion of energy efficiency technologies in the near future. They also discussed business model innovations that will enable market transformations.
• Agricultural Energy Efficiency: A Midwestern Imperative: Opportunities to save energy in Midwestern agricultural operations and rural small businesses abound, yet significant barriers still remain. Panelists identified challenges, solutions and next steps to take in the Midwest.
• Friends with Non-energy Benefits: Beyond the Monetary Savings of Energy Efficiency: The benefits of energy efficiency for the customer are extensive: monetary savings, improved comfort and safety, increased employee productivity and better brand positioning. This panel explored the latest trends in measuring and marketing these non-energy benefits and presented a case study.
• 11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala. MEEA presented awards in Education, Innovation, Impact, Marketing and Leadership and announced the 2015 Chairman’s Award winner.

Friday, Jan. 30
• Keynote remarks by Terry Proffer from Major Geothermal on behalf of IKEA.
• Surfing Advanced Lighting’s Cutting Edge…Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond: The digitization of lighting technology continues to drive transformative change. Efficiency, integrated control systems and consumer expectations are evolving in the new LED landscape. Panelists discussed what’s currently possible in efficient lighting systems, and gave a glimpse into the next wave for residential, commercial and industrial markets.
• The Most Known Unknowns: The Future of Energy Efficiency in an Uncertain Environment: Recognized as valuable contributions to our resource mix, energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) face an uncertain future in organized energy markets. Panelists presented the effects of recent regulatory proceedings on the future role of EE and DR in capacity markets and opportunities and challenges for businesses bidding into these markets.

For a detailed conference agenda, visit www.meeaconference.org.


photo credit: Rebecca Sack

Upcoming Webinar: ESPC 2.0: How a New Generation of Energy Savings Performance Contracting is Improving Energy Efficiency in U.S. Buildings

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 22, 2015 - 12:18pm

On Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015, at 2-3pm CST, join Better Buildings Challenge Partners and Allies to learn how Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) is expanding to new sectors, including and beyond municipal and state governments, to impact building energy efficiency. In this webinar, learn how your organization can take advantage of ESPCs to see long-term energy savings in your buildings with limited upfront investment.  A representative from the U.S. Department of Energy will also introduce DOE’s ESPC Accelerator – a high impact program designed to support expansion of ESPCs among state and local governments.


The Better Buildings Challenge supports commercial and industrial building owners by providing technical assistance and examples of proven, energy efficiency solutions. It also celebrates the accomplishments of those signed onto the challenge of committing to reduce the energy across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more over ten years. These include U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multi-family organizations, and state and local governments. The monthly webinar series showcase with the solutions they have implemented, along with the replicable results they have achieved. The program also provides a forum for matching Partners and Allies together to enhance collaboration and problem solving in energy efficiency.


To attend the webinar on ESPCs, sign up here:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/309587319

For more information on the Better Buildings Challenge contact Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.

11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards – Leadership

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 21, 2015 - 10:44am

This week MEEA is announcing the final list of nominees for the 2015 Inspiring Efficiency Awards in the Leadership category. We are looking forward to honoring these candidates and their ongoing contributions to energy efficiency at this year’s Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala.

The Inspiring Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award is presented to the organization or individual who has served as a strong leader in support of energy efficiency in their city, state, region, company, or community. Candidates may include state and local political leaders, regulatory officials, legislators, state agency directors, corporations, or other policymakers who have been exceptional in their support of energy efficiency.

  • Carol Stemrich, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Focus on Energy Program
  • ComEd Energy Efficiency, George Malek
  • Deb Sundin Director of DSM and Renewable Strategy, Xcel Energy
  • The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)
  • Illinois Green Economy Network
  • James (Jim) Jerozal, Managing Director, Energy Efficiency, Nicor Gas
  • Tom Kurucz, Deputy Superintendent, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District
  • Mark Barich, Facilities Engineering – Energy Manager, Summa Health System

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/.

DOE Seeks Input on Definition of Zero Energy Buildings

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 13, 2015 - 6:01pm

Designing and managing the use of a low energy using building or one that intends to use less than half (50%) of the typical building of its size and occupancy is a difficult process. However, design teams and building owners are beginning to create buildings which use as little energy as possible, while producing only the amount they need – on or near the building site. These types of buildings are called Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs) or Net Zero Energy (NZE) Buildings.

Although these ultra-low energy buildings have been built and are in use, there are not commonplace in our current, Midwest building stock. A retail building was recently completed by Walgreens in Evanston, IL. On the residential side, Habitat for Humanity in Northwestern Wisconsin completed a set of homes this autumn which follow a similar definition. Earlier in 2009, the Washington University in St. Louis completed the Tyson Learning Center in rural Missouri. The U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) is interested in developing a commonly-accepted definitions and nomenclature of Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs) or Net Zero Energy (NZE) Buildings (the specific term might be something to comment on itself!) in a newly released, Federal Register document.

Specifically, DOE would like public input on define “zero-energy buildings,” and how to designate buildings that meet various standards toward net-zero. A common definition could assist to set guidelines that could help governments, private companies, and others in construction industry have a goal to reach for and achieve, while simultaneously using the same standard to recognize those buildings who do meet the agreed upon requirements. Some may see this as a means to continually move the market towards low energy buildings and further reductions of greenhouse gas/CO2 emissions – goals many Federal, State, and local governments have already established. To others, it could suggest influencing future generations of the building energy code or green building certification programs. The Living Future Institute is one such organization who already has set up the Living Building Challenge program using a set of criteria to certify buildings who achieve a number of ultra, low-impact features, including those termed as a “Net Zero Energy Building.”

For more information on the U.S. DOE Request for Information (RFI) recently released in the Federal Register, follow this link. There is plenty of opportunity to voice your opinion on the matter through the public comment period. U.S. DOE has not suggested this information will immediately influence their goals, but will help clarify the working definition we all use. Comments are not due until 2/20/15, while a report on the findings and comments is slated for late 2015.

For more information on benchmarking, building data collection, and the next generation of places we inhabit, contact Steve Kismohr, MEEA’s Senior Technical Manager, at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.

Upcoming Event: Getting to Zero National Forum, Washington, DC, February 1 -3, 2015

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 13, 2015 - 5:55pm

Please see below for information on the Getting to Zero National Forum, courtesy of New Buildings Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute, and NASEO:


Join Leading Practitioners and Policymakers to Discuss the Future of Commercial Buildings

New Buildings Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute, and NASEO will host a second Getting to Zero National Forum, February 1-3, 2015 in Washington D.C. The Forum will gather policymakers, design professionals, building owners, and real estate representatives to share perspectives on the growth of zero energy commercial building policies and projects.  The event takes place prior to NASEO’s 2015 Energy Policy Outlook Conference.

Over 40 leading experts, three plenary sessions, and four breakout tracks will cover a broad range of issues, including the technical and operational considerations for creating and maintaining zero energy performance, business perspectives on cost and value, and taking zero energy buildings from policy to practice.  The sessions are especially suited for State Energy Office staff, NASEO Affiliates, and other organizations interested in high performance commercial buildings.  The full program is available on the Forum website.

Location, Registration, and Sponsorship

The Getting to Zero National Forum will be held at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC.  The room block is limited and expires on January 9, so reserve today by calling 800-441-1414. Mention “NBI” to receive the reduced Forum rate. You can also reserve online at https://resweb.passkey.com/go/nbi.

For a list of registration options, visit the Forum website.

If you are interested in attending NASEO’s 2015 Energy Policy Outlook Conference, separate registration and accommodations are available through NASEO’s conference page.  Both events take place at the Fairmont Hotel.

For information about sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities for the Getting to Zero Forum and Energy Policy Outlook Conference, please contact Chris Wagner at cwagner@naseo.org.


BOC Veterans Program Veteran Highlight: Florance Clanton

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 13, 2015 - 5:35pm

Florance Clanton of Glenwood, IL is one of several scholarship recipients for the Building Operator Certification Veterans Program. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Recycling and Energy Office provides tuition scholarships for this eight day training program for unemployed or underemployed veterans in the state of Illinois as part of the Illinois Energy Now Program. MEEA spoke with Florance to discuss her experience with the BOC program.

1.      What interested you about the Building Operator Certification Program?

I have a Stationary Engineer license. This program allows me to gain more knowledge in the world of energy efficiency. I Know no matter where I am working, I will bring the knowledge to be more energy efficient to the job to help save cost to my employer.

2.      Tell us about yourself – what experience do you have with building systems?

I worked for the Chicago Board of Education for twenty four years. I started in the construction trade as a Glazier. I was promoted to assistant Glazing Forman. I was attending college at night until I graduated from undergraduate school with a BS, in Environmental Science and then on to graduate school for a degree in Business Management in Environmental Science/Building management.

After school I was promoted to the Bur, of Arch. While working there I applied to the Stationary Engineer program it was a four year study program. In this program you learn about all building systems and recording keeping and preventive maintenance for buildings. I trained at twenty different school buildings to learn the operations and the environmental concerns of each school: Asbestos, Lead, Radon, Mold, Hazmat waste in the schools.

3.      What was your favorite part of the BOC program?


There were many things that I liked about my classes. The class had team sprit we all talked to each other about work and the classes. We had class projects to in class and at work/home to do. I think the first class was very good; my next best was the Environmental class.

4.      What type of position are you hoping to get in the operations and maintenance field?

I worked as a Project Manager for five years in the environmental field. I am open to any suggestions about career choices this is a new start for me. I do enjoy teaching others and so I’d like to perhaps pursue a position where I would be instructing others on energy efficiency strategies.

There are some big thank you’s I must include in this This my support team I want to say thank you to everyone I could not do it alone thank you for the help and support  from ComEd I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

Jennifer Allen, Program Manager, MEEA, Paul Pipik ,Veterans Coordinator, Prairie State College Vicki J. Evers, Regional Facility Manager, Jones Lang LaSalle Richard Reyes, FMP, Manager of facility Operations William Burns PE, Senior Engineer Com Ed Dale Williams CEM, Senior Engineer, Com Ed Charles Daniels, Building Engineer, Com Ed

11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards – Marketing

MEEA Unplugged Blog - January 12, 2015 - 12:05pm

As we continue our countdown to the 2015 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference we are happy to share the list of nominees for this year’s Inspiring Efficiency Award in the Marketing category.


The Inspiring Efficiency through Marketing Award will be presented to the nominee that has engaged in or supported a marketing campaign, program, strategy, or idea to increase the adoption of energy efficient products and/or best practices in the Midwest region. National programs may be nominated as long as there is a clear Midwest benefit.


  • AEP Ohio (sponsoring utility) and CB&I (program designer and implementer)
  • Alliant Energy
  • Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy® Business Program
  • Columbia Gas of Ohio
  • ComEd’s Fridge and Freezer Recycling (FFR) program
  • ComEd’s Smart Ideas for Your Home (SIFYH)
  • Consumers Energy Smart Energy™ Challenge
  • Dayton Power and Light Company
  • Focus on Energy Lighting Incentive Catalog
  • Michigan Commercial & Industrial Energy Conference, MCIEC
  • Nicor Gas, energySMART, Customer Journey Marketing Strategy
  • Urbana-Champaign ENERGY STAR Challenge
  • Xcel Energy – Energy Efficient Showerhead 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.mwalliance.org/conference/.

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