Better Plants at the World Energy Engineering Congress

The World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) is the largest energy conference and technology expo in the United States. Presented by the Association of Energy Engineers, the conference is designed to bring together top experts from diverse fields to expand knowledge on energy efficiency, facility optimization, and sustainability. 2017 marked the 40th WEEC, which was held in Atlanta, Georgia, from September 27-29, and keynoted by former president George W. Bush.

Better Plants was a silver-level sponsor and participating partners were given opportunities to:


A Better Plants conference track ran through all three days. Partners and other industry leaders covered timely topics and promoted proven, innovative technologies and strategies for overcoming energy performance barriers:

  • Filling the Jobs of Tomorrow Today: How Manufacturers Can Address Their Energy Management Workforce Needs (Wednesday, September 27, 2:30-4:30 pm)
    • Philip Kauneckas (Corporate Energy Manager) - Intertape Polymer
    • Tari Emerson (Division Energy Manager) - Charter Steel
    • Bhuvnesh Joshi (Corporate Energy Engineer) & Kevin Kohl (Product Manager) - Legrand North America
    • Leslie Marshall (Energy Engineer) - General Mills
  • 50001 Reasons to be 50001 Ready (Thursday, September 28, 9:00-11:00 am)
    • Renee Smiljanic (EHS/WCM Manager) - Comau
    • Gordon Smith (Sustainability Director) - Electrolux
    • Jay Wrobel (Manager) - U.S. Department of Energy
    • Wade Willatt (Senior Energy Engineer) - Nissan
  • Innovation Matters: How Manufacturers Are Boosting Their Competitiveness and Saving Money (Thursday, September 28, 2:30-4:30 pm)
    • Adam Vucelich (Energy Services Manager) - Arconic
    • William Jerald (Chief Energy Engineer) - CalPortland
    • Carl Schultz (EH&S Senior Director) - TE Connectivity
    • Mike Roeth (Executive Director) - North American Council for Freight Efficiency
  • Preparing for the Worst: Resiliency and Energy Security for Manufacturers (Friday, September 29, 9:00-11:00 am)
    • Logan Olds (General Manager) - Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority
    • Tracy Fialli (Principal Energy Engineer) - Raytheon
    • Catherine Collison (Energy and Process Champion) - Saint-Gobain
    • Ed Willhite (Facility Manager) - Schneider Electric


Partners and other invited guests gathered for a catered networking breakfast on the morning of Thursday, September 28. It was a rare chance to gather with peers in the Better Plants community to network, share ideas, provide feedback to the program, and preview a host of initiatives to further support partners in 2018 and beyond. There was also a short recognition ceremony for goal-achieving partners. Representatives from program partners Comau LLC and Eaton Corporation and Encina Wastewater Authority (a Better Plants Challenge partner) were welcomed on-stage to receive a trophy for exceeding their 25 percent energy intensity reduction goal. Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, a Challenge partner, also shared with the audience the strategies and results from their 1.6 MW CHP system that won a Better Project award earlier in the year. Representatives from Charter Steel and Comau LLC then received certificates for undertaking the 50001 Ready process at their facilities and spoke about its benefits. 


Throughout the conference, Better Plants maintained an expo booth - one of roughly 200 - that included a laptop demonstration of the new 50001 Ready Navigator software tool, innovative additive manufacturing examples, a compressed air system demo, and a wealth of information on complementary AMO and National Lab resources. The expo floor was also the site of a workshop entitled 50001 Ready: Recognizing ISO Conformance led by AMO’s Jay Wrobel.

DOE also released the 2017 Better Plants Progress Update at WEEC, which highlighted recent program developments and the collective achievements of all partners. This includes estimated cumulative energy cost savings by partners of $4.2 billion to date - savings which can reduce partners' operating expenses and make the U.S. industrial sector even more vibrant and competitive. Click here to see the latest progress update.

From left to right:Eli Levine presents Renee Smiljanic, NAFTA EHS/WCM Manager at Comau LLC, a trophy in recognition of Comaus's achievement of its energy intensity reduction goal; Former President George W. Bush shares his thoughts on current events and the state of the energy sector during a fireside chat moderated by Dr. Eric Woodroof, alumni of the IAC program; Bill Kent, Managing Director of the Association of Energy Engineers, addresses participants at a partner breakfast.