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Webinar Series

Better Buildings Webinar Series

Each month, the Department of Energy will highlight the innovative work being done by Better Buildings partners and other market leaders. Webinar topics will vary and presenters will cover relevant and timely issues for building owners and managers as well as policy makers, corporate executives and sustainability directors.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is a vehicle to pay for energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy installations on private property. Local or state governments or other entities fund the upfront costs of the improvements which are paid back over time through property assessments added to the owner’s property tax bills. In this webinar, Better Buildings Challenge partners described their successful experiences with PACE financing as program developers, city administrators, and property owners.

Re-tuning is a low-cost process to identify and correct building operational problems that lead to energy waste. To expand the practice of re-tuning, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed a curricula focused on retuning both large (with a building automation system, or BAS) and small (without a BAS) commercial buildings. Hear from Better Buildings Challenge Partners who have employed retuning training to improve building performance and learn about opportunities to participate in trainings in your area.

Recording (49 MB), Slides

Building occupants are often keen to support energy efficiency efforts -- we just have to ask! Learn how Better Buildings Challenge partners Michigan State University (MSU), Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Transwestern have done just that. MSU's Environmental Stewards program enlists a champion from individual campus units or departments to track the department's energy metrics on a monthly basis, promote energy saving practices to colleagues and students, and serve as a liaison to the campus sustainability program. Cleveland Clinic Foundation is transforming resource intensive operating rooms through partnerships with clinicians, who help smooth the way for technology upgrades and behavior change strategies to reduce energy and water consumption. Transwestern has developed a number of programs to encourage energy use reductions by commercial building tenants.

Recording (47 MB), Slides

Solar technologies are becoming more efficient and affordable, and a number of Better Buildings Challenge Partners are incorporating solar into their portfolio energy strategy. Dysart Unified School District in Arizona is nearing their goal of powering their buildings with 100% solar energy. MGM Resorts International is beginning the implementation of a significant solar installation at the famous Mandalay Bay Hotel. The Denver Housing Authority is incorporating solar into their multifamily housing portfolio. These Partners shared lessons learned, best practices and their perspectives on the future of solar as a tool in the portfolio energy efficiency arsenal.

Recording (44 MB), Slides, MGM Presentation

Organizations have traditionally relied on monthly utility bills to track whole-building energy use, and to benchmark against previous year’s usage or other buildings. Tracking energy use at a more granular level within buildings – by system or piece of equipment, with reporting every 15 minutes in some cases – can help building staff isolate usage issues and correct them much more quickly. This session featured Better Buildings Challenge Partners who are employing real-time energy management to achieve their energy reduction goals. The Tower Companies described their efforts working with a third party vendor who installed sensors throughout their commercial and residential buildings and acts as an "energy guardian angel," alerting Tower of energy anomalies and proposed corrections. The City of Beaverton, Oregon presented their pilot real-time energy monitoring program for city buildings, which shows great promise. Best Buy described the successful deployment of a real-time energy management system across their retail building portfolio.

Recording (42 MB), Slides

Time, money, and expertise are often barriers to a robust energy management program. Better Buildings Challenge Partners Shorenstein and Allegheny College described solutions that helped them jump these hurdles to develop a culture of sustainability within their organizations—and a track record of successful energy efficiency projects. Jaxon Love detailed Shorenstein’s experience bringing on energy management fellows for summer appointments, building the case for a full-time sustainability position at the company. Kelly Boulton outlined how she and campus professors worked together to engage students to develop and present the business case for campus energy efficiency projects to administrators. Renee Lefrenz also profiled the Alliance to Save Energy's PowerSave Campus program, a student internship supporting energy efficiency efforts in schools.

Deep energy retrofits take a whole building approach to achieve dramatic energy savings. Upgrades to multiple building systems can be made all at once or in a planned sequence over a number of years, and can sometimes reap energy savings of 50% or more. In this webinar, Better Buildings Alliance member Carlos Santamaria discussed Glenborough’s experience implementing deep energy retrofits. Cara Carmichael of the Rocky Mountain Institute also shared best practices gleaned supporting numerous deep energy retrofit projects across the country. Could deep energy retrofits be right for your buildings?

A little rivalry goes a long way when it comes to reducing building energy use through behavior change. In this webinar, Better Buildings Challenge Partner City of El Paso and Better Buildings Better Plants Partner Legrand shared their experiences leveraging friendly competitions to drive building energy efficiency within their organizations. The session also included an overview of the U.S. EPA’s Energy Efficiency Competition Guide.

Getting approval for energy efficiency measures can sometimes be the most challenging aspect of the project. Better Buildings Challenge Partners USAA Real Estate Company; University of California, Irvine; and Kohl's shared their best practices for communicating the value of building energy efficiency projects and working with financial decision-makers to make those projects happen.

Employees have long enjoyed bonuses, stellar annual reviews, and even free vacations for meeting sales targets or other corporate goals. Why not extend the practice to sustainability? Learn about the initiatives Better Buildings Challenge Partners Alcoa, HEI Hotels, and TIAA-CREF have in place to reward employees for meeting energy efficiency goals.

Recording (WMV 44.1MB), Slides

A presentation on the underlying barriers to energy data access. Learn about solutions underway across the country, including a successful collaboration between building owners, utilities, regulators, and policymakers in Philadelphia who worked together to provide access to whole-building energy use data. The session will also highlight new resources to help you replicate this model in your community.

Events & Conferences

November 4th, 2014, 3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT

Finding the Next Big Thing(s) in Building Energy Efficiency: HIT Catalyst and the Technology Demo Program

Join Better Buildings program participants who are working with U.S. Department of Energy staff to test promising technologies in their buildings. Learn what they are finding and how you can get involved.

Register here.