2018 Summit Highlights

The Better Buildings Summit is a national meeting designed for partners and stakeholders to exchange best practices and highlight demonstrated market solutions with an equal emphasis on discussing future opportunities for greater energy efficiency in America’s buildings, manufacturing facilities, and homes. In 2018, the Summit partnered with DOE’s annual Energy Exchange, focused on federal facility energy management, to provide greater access to technical discussions and training while also providing the great panel sessions, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities attendees expect at the Summit.

2018 Better Buildings Summit Highlights:

Tuesday, August 21

The 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit kicked off Tuesday morning in downtown Cleveland, Ohio with Dr. Teresa R. Pohlman from the Department of Homeland Security delivering a rousing rendition of the national anthem that brought Summit participants to their feet. The theme of this year’s summit is “Resilient, Efficient, Secure” with a focus on the power of partnerships – a nod to the Energy Exchange and Better Buildings collaboration. Read on for more details, and a recap of the 2018 Showcase Building Tours!

Plenary speakers, like Hon. Lucien Niemeyer –Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment at the Department of Defense—talked about the importance of addressing energy needs while having the ability to operate off the grid particularly for critical functions. Dr. Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, touched on the importance of having continued access to affordable and reliable power.

The early afternoon consisted of the building tours and dozens of sessions including the International Reach of Better Buildings, and Prioritizing Laboratories: Meeting Campus Energy Goals with a Smart Labs Program.

The international sessions included panels that provided an overview of China’s Better Buildings program, it goals, as well as similarities and differences to the DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative. Still in its infancy stage, China’s Better Buildings program has signed pilot city agreements with Shanghai Changning district, Qingdao City, Wenzhou, and Xian City in 2018 as well as worked with ICF to develop energy efficiency benchmarking tools.

The second half of the international sessions covered the multilateral collaboration the U.S. is involved in, the best technologies available domestically, and how they can be deployed globally. The session’s presenters shared a list of the top 10 available energy efficiency technologies in the U.S. building industry. Those technologies include:

  1. Occupant responsive lighting
  2. Energy management and information systems
  3. Plug load control devices
  4. LED downlight luminaires
  5. Condensing tankless water heaters
  6. Heat pump water heaters
  7. Advanced rooftop unit controls
  8. Fixed window attachments
  9. Dynamic solar control systems
  10. Comprehensive attic update

The Prioritizing Laboratories session focused on implementing campus-wide programs to improve lab efficiency and safety through Smart Labs programs. Presenters discussed their techniques for engaging their research staff and building occupants in order to achieve energy savings. One of the recommendations discussed, for three facilities, was a wind tunnel test designed to reduce exhaust fan energy. The top 10 buildings selected were based on buildings with laboratory space and the highest laboratory consumption. Lastly, presenters discussed hurdles they faced, such as management buy-in and financing, and shared strategies they implemented to overcome those obstacles.

On the Showcase Building Tours, hosted by Cleveland-area organizations and Better Buildings partners, participants had the opportunity to learn about the different energy and water-saving strategies taken by local businesses in the multifamily, commercial, hospitality, and local government sectors.

Many more cross-sector sessions and events are slated for tomorrow and the rest of the week at the 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit. Partners can visit this page all week for daily recaps of the Summit and anything you may have missed.  

Wednesday, August 22

Day 2 of the 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit packed with a series of panels, roundtables, and keynote addresses. The morning kicked off with the Better Buildings partner meet-ups for the various sectors, including commercial real estate (CRE), multifamily, and education.

The CRE meet-up gave Better Buildings Challenge and Alliance partners the opportunity to connect with one another, share their accomplishments, and discuss challenges facing the sector. Presenters from Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and Colliers International discussed topics such as resiliency infrastructure, energy efficiency in Class B and C buildings, and the business case for submetering.

Multifamily partners were invited for a meet-up where they revisited the past year’s sector accomplishments (including the Year of Data "YoDa" initiative), as well as shared best practices in energy and water conservation planning. They also received a demo of the Better Buildings Financing Navigator. It was reported in 2017 that partners achieved 2.8 billion KBTUs in energy savings. The session wrapped with a discussion of what next year may look like and strategies that can be implemented to increase sector sustainability.

During the education sector meet-up, attendees from the K-12 and higher education sectors participated in a series of roundtable discussions led by experts on:

  • DOE’s building energy asset scores;
  • The new ASHRAE advanced energy design guides;
  • PV Watts;
  • Rural schools
  • Smart Labs Accelerator
  • Sustainability planning; and

The session wrapped with six website demonstrations on DER CAM, NREL’s PV Watts, Better Buildings Financing Navigator 2.0, HVAC Resource Map, Building Energy Asset Score, REopt, and the Smart Labs Accelerator.

After lunch, keynote speakers Dr. Kathleen Hogan (DOE), Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, John Selldorff (Legrand), Bill Peacock (Cleveland Clinic), Jason Hartke (Alliance to Save Energy), and Ohio PUC Chairman Asim Haque addressed attendees. Speakers highlighted the progress made on energy efficiency while calling on partners and participants to keep meeting their energy and water goals. Shortly after the keynote, Dr. Hogan led a roundtable discussing the impact weather has on resiliency as well as the role energy efficiency plays in resiliency.


The Better Buildings, Better Plants program closed the afternoon by recognizing their partners for their achievements and presented the Better Practice and Better Projects awards. Awardees are listed below.

Better Practice Awards Better Projects Awards
  • ArcelorMittal
  • Celanese
  • Ingersoll Rand
  • Owens Corning
  • TE Connectivity
  • Quad Graphics
  • General Motors
  • LA Sanitation
  • Raytheon
  • Saint-Gobain
  • MedImmune
  • J.R. Simplot

Many more cross-sector sessions and events are slated for tomorrow at the 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit, including the last day of Ask-an-Expert, the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP Panel, and Partner Recognition for the 2018 Goal Achievers, partners setting a new Challenge goal, and more. Partners can visit this page all week for recaps of the Summit content they may have missed.

Thursday, August 23

As the week winds down, the 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit continued with back-to-back sessions featuring Better Buildings partners and allies. A few standout sessions during the morning track included: Community/Utility Partnerships That emPOWER Success; Finance 101: Navigating Financing Options for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Spreading the Love, Upping the Likes; and Business Case 2.0: New Research Around High Performing Buildings.

During the Community/Utility Partnerships session, Better Buildings partners Los Angeles, L.A. Department of Water and Power, and Boston shared their experiences expanding effective energy programs for residents. Those who attended the Finance 101 session heard from financing strategies director at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Anmol Vanamali. Vanamali discussed recent trends in finance and new products, market data, and key barriers. Attendees were also provided a web demo of the Better Buildings Financing Navigator 2.0, a resource designed to help organizations find energy financing solutions.

Spreading the Love, Upping the Likes featured insights into leveraging the media to share success stories in efficiency and renewables. Media and communications experts from L’Oréal, Smart Energy Decisions, WTWH Media LCC, and Solar Builder Magazine discussed best practices in leveraging public relations and social media. The New Research Around High Performing Buildings session examined ways energy efficiency can be incorporated into planned real estate transactions. Speakers from RE Tech Advisors, Virginia Tech, and UC Berkeley, discussed new research on energy factors, how to account for commercial mortgage default risk, and the development of an energy risk score for the mortgage industry.

The afternoon was filled with stimulating discussions and panels. During the lunch hour, the Energy Department held a partner recognition ceremony. Nineteen Better Buildings Challenge partners who achieved their energy and water reduction goals for 2018 were recognized, along with 26 partners who have set new Challenge goals after meeting their initial goals. The ceremony was followed by the SWAP 4 reunion panel where participating partners L’Oréal USA and General Motors shared their experiences during their season as reality TV stars and answered audience questions.

In New Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Smart Home Technology, speakers from Google’s Nest, Mitsubishi Electric, and Aquanta discussed opportunities and barriers to integrating smart technologies into residential energy programs.

One of the final Summit sessions, Building a Next Generation Workforce for Next Generation Buildings, confronted sector-wide challenges in finding qualified technicians to support facilities maintenance and operations. Speakers from the City of Chattanooga, University of Maryland Medical Center, and the Association of Controls Professionals shared their workforce solutions to combat this challenge.

The Better Buildings Summit provides partners and industry leaders the opportunity to discuss challenges across sectors, share solutions, and brainstorm innovations that help keep energy costs low and strengthen the economy. Thank you to all of our partners and attendees for joining this year’s 2018 Energy Exchange and Better Buildings Summit in Cleveland.