Highlights from Partner Day at the Better Buildings Summit

Yesterday marked “Partner Day” for the Better Buildings Summit, when we recognized partners for their knowledge and insights with Insider Talks, their remarkable accomplishments in energy and water savings and investments, and rich two-way conversations between panelists and session attendees.

Maria Vargas director kicked us off with Partner Insider Talks featuring Austin Blackmon with City of Boston, Bob Bechtold of HARBEC, Wendell Brase of UC Irvine, Mark Vanderhelm of Walmart, and Jodenne Scott of Shari’s Café & Pies. Their talks ranged from specific solutions, such as Harbec’s water storage and thermal energy project, to high-level insights into what corporations like Walmart are really looking for when adopting a renewable energy platform. 

Partner Pavilion featured “Ask an Expert” all day long, with commercial and industrial experts who answered questions on lighting and electrical, renewables, plug and process loads, process heating and more.

At lunch Mayor Kasim Reed gave a passionate speech about what it takes for a city to adopt widespread and effective energy efficiency policies. According to Reed, “Cities are where hope meets the street. We have the greatest opportunity to move the needle the fastest.” Mayor Reed cited his experience at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, and discussed the need for cities to start with 20% energy savings, then realize the huge potential to save even more, with additional partnerships and innovative solutions.

David Friedman, recently announced acting assistant secretary of the EERE office at Department of Energy, followed Mayor Reed with an address that applauded Better Buildings partners for their hard work in making “dollars and sense,” which is ultimately saving billions of dollars on utility bills.

“I don’t see investing in energy efficiency as overhead; it’s an opportunity to save money so you can spend it on reducing your waste stream, and delivering more profits to shareholders. The less money you spend on energy, the more you can spend on the things that really matter,” said Friedman. “By sharing solutions you are making the roadmap of the future. You are part of an ever-growing effort in a clean energy revolution.”

Next Friedman and Kathleen Hogan recognized this year’s Better Buildings Challenge and Financial Ally goal achievers, who joined groups of goal achievers from years past.

Energy Goal Achievers:

  • Arby’s, 24% energy reduction
  • State of Delaware, 23% energy reduction
  • eBay, Inc., 25% energy reduction
  • Intuit, 21% energy reduction
  • Havertys, 22% energy reduction
  • City of Hillsboro, OR, 22% energy reduction
  • Nissan North America, 30% energy reduction
  • River Trails School District, 23% energy reduction
  • The Hartford Financial Services, 21% energy reduction
  • Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA), 27% energy reduction
  • Poudre School District (PSD), 25% energy reduction and 29% water reduction

Water Goal Early Achievers

  • City of Atlanta, GA, 20% water reduction
  • Cummins, Inc., 45% water reduction
  • United Technologies Corporation, 43% water reduction

Financial Ally Early Achievers:

  • Enterprise Community Partners, $130 million
  • Ygrene Energy, $100 million
  • Community Investment Corporation (CIC), $25 million
  • Connecticut Green Bank, $25 million

For sessions, interactivity and discussion were this year’s theme. Attendees were given ample opportunity to ask panelists questions, resulting in lively discussions on everything from commercial real estate benchmarking to blogging, pitching trade media and Twitter. Please don’t forget to fill out those session evaluation forms; your input is essential for continuing to improve and expand the Summit.

Finally, partners had a chance to catch up, kvetch and network during the networking event in the Partner Pavilion.

Stay tuned for more Ask the Expert sessions with commercial and industrial experts at the Partner Pavilion, and a recap of the keynotes by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, HUD Secretary Julian Castro and White House Chief Sustainability Officer Christine Harada.