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2021 Summit Brings Together Leaders, Industry Stakeholders, and Technical Experts

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 15, 2021

The Department of Energy (DOE)’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit concluded on May 20 after four days of interactive sessions, peer networking, and knowledge sharing. This year, thousands of leaders in the buildings, manufacturing, and energy, water, and waste-efficiency industries came together to share ideas, discuss challenges, and plan future work.

For the second year, the Summit was held as a virtual leadership symposium and featured interactive online sessions, workshops, special events, and sector meet-ups. Topics ranged from achieving efficiency targets to building resilience, workforce development, decarbonization pathways, and much more.

Here are some highlights from the best-attended sessions of the 2021 Better Buildings Summit:

  • At the opening plenary, Secretary of Energy Granholm delivered the keynote address and recognized more than 50 organizations working with DOE on the new Better Buildings Low Carbon Pilot. Acting Assistant Secretary & Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Speakes-Backman shared the latest program accomplishments and highlighted the 12 partners that reached their energy, water, or financing goals over the past year as Better Buildings or Better Plants Challenge partners. Better Buildings Initiative Director Maria Vargas highlighted other partner successes. Together, the speakers showed how the work of Better Buildings, Better Plants partners contributes to President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Following the opening plenary, a White House Roundtable entitled, “Accelerating Building Decarbonization” featured remarks and announcements from several Cabinet members. Attendees also heard from industry stakeholders, who discussed the equitable decarbonization of America’s buildings, associated opportunities for jobs, and new programs for efficient electrified buildings.
  • In one of the most popular sessions with nearly 950 attendees, leaders from DOE’s National Labs hosted a special event to highlight emerging trends and technologies and discuss the future of energy efficiency. Panelists discussed the importance of efficiency in buildings to DOE’s overarching emissions-reduction goals, equity and inclusion in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the nexus of health and the built environment, and the importance of workforce development.
  • During “Collecting and Managing Your Building Energy Data,” experts from DOE’s National Labs and three local government partners demonstrated the power of DOE’s building energy tools. The hands-on walkthrough of several data-management applications showed nearly 800 attendees how to harness energy data to optimize building efficiency. Presenters also discussed the building performance standard and how data tools can help implement this standard in local jurisdictions.
  • With more than 500 attendees, “Pathways to Zero: Designing Impactful Carbon Reduction Targets” was another top-attended session and built off the themes discussed during the Opening Plenary and White House Roundtable. Drawing from the newly launched Low Carbon Pilot, this session addressed common questions, considerations, and challenges for setting and meeting carbon goals. Panelists from the City of Milwaukee, MetLife Investment Management, and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation shared their approaches and recommendations for meaningful carbon targets.

Recorded presentations from the 2021 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit are now available on the Better Buildings Solution Center.

More than 950 organizations partner with DOE through Better Buildings to improve their energy, water, and waste efficiency – representing more than 30 of the country’s Fortune 100 companies, 12 of the top 25 U.S. employers, 12% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, and 13% of total commercial building space, as well as 17 Federal agencies, 8 national laboratories, and more than 80 state and local governments spanning the nation. Together, these partners have saved more than $13 billion in energy costs and shared thousands of solutions.

This blog originally appeared on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy blog