Highlights from the 2019 Summit: Part 1

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jul 22, 2019

This year nearly 650 industry professionals gathered for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. Each year attendees – from the C-Suite to energy managers to facilities operations teams – come together to engage with their industry peers and exchange ideas and best practices for energy and water efficiency, building resilience, workforce development, and more. We’ve put together highlights from across the 60 sessions and 2 days of special events that made up the 2019 Summit. Enjoy Part 1!

Wednesday, July 10

Energy Secretary Rick Perry at the podium addressing the audience at the 2019 SummitThe 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit kicked off Wednesday morning with a keynote address from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. He celebrated the U.S. as a global leader in energy efficiency innovation, producing energy more abundantly, affordably, and cleanly than ever before. The Secretary also noted the role of DOE’S National Labs as industry trailblazers through their R&D and innovation efforts, and credited Better Buildings and Better Plants partners and allies for their pivotal work in helping to build a more energy-efficient and energy-secure economy.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry delivering the keynote address at the podiumSecretary Perry also congratulated the more than 20 Better Buildings and Better Plants Challenge partners and allies who achieved their energy, water, or financial goals in 2019. He then announced the new Better Buildings, Better Plants Waste Reduction Pilot, recognizing the 17 partners that already joined and encouraging others to sign up. 

Following Secretary Perry’s keynote, David Nemtzow, Director of the Building Technologies Office, moderated a panel on efficiency and sustainability leadership at the executive level with 3 Better Buildings and Better Plants Challenge partners: Randy Gaines of Hilton Worldwide, Danielle Azoulay of L’Oréal USA, and Chris Castro with the City of Orlando.Seated on the stage left to right are David Nemtzow, Chris Castro, Danielle Azoulay, and Randy Gaines

The speakers shared their thoughts and insights on the future of energy efficiency, the keys to successfully embedding a sustainability effort at the company level, and how technology, data, energy audits, and M&V tools have allowed their organizations to optimize their respective sustainability efforts.

The remainder of the morning was dedicated to Better Buildings Sector Meet-ups, where partners gathered to discuss issues of interest within their specific building spaces and identify priorities going forward. Some of the popular afternoon sessions included “Grid Modernization: The Role of Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings,” “How Buildings of All Shapes and Sizes are Achieving Zero Energy,” and “Emerging Financing Trends in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” The discussions took many forms from interactive roundtables to engaging breakouts.

Summit attendees in a session, seated in rounds Panelists at a dais speaking to an audience A group of attendees seated in a circle in a session having a discussion

Other programming options included the Financial Ally Speed Dating session, where financing providers were paired up with organizations looking for funding solutions for their energy and water efficiency projects. Attendees also stopped by Ask-an-Expert, where experts from DOE, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the National Renewable Energy Lab were available to answer questions on building data analytics, residential data tools, and zero energy.

The Ask an Expert schedule sign A Summit attendee consults with an expert about energy data at Ask-an-Expert

Winners of the Better Project and Better Practice Awards lined up on a stage holding their certificatesThe Better Plants team also presented the 2019 Better Project and Better Practice Awards, recognizing outstanding partner accomplishments in implementing and promoting industrial energy efficiency projects and programs. Congratulations to the 2019 winners: ArcelorMittal, Lineage Logistics, Agropur, Saint-Gobain, General Motors, Bentley Mills, Eastman Chemical Co., Toyota, Pepsi Co., Nissan USA, and Des Moines Water Works! 

The day wrapped up with a lively reception, where attendees and speakers shared learnings and takeaways from the day and got excited for Day 2’s agenda. Stay tuned to the Beat Blog for Part 2 later this week!

People talking and laughing at the reception3 people having a conversation at the reception

3 attendees smiling at the receptionA milling crowd at the reception