CEE19 Panel and Breakout Session Descriptions 

Panel Topics: 

PACE Across Texas

Join us for an interactive conversation about a program that is gaining traction across Texas. This in-depth conversation with attendees will share examples of Texas Property Assessed Clean Energy (TX-PACE) and how it lowers operating costs by enabling financing for efficiency, water conservation, distributed generation, and resiliency upgrades across the state. The financial, environmental, and public policy benefits of this program will be discussed through case studies. This panel will explain how the program is designed to accelerate upgrade investments, new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps, insulation and more, in existing buildings by providing long-term, 100% financing, empowering owners to use their available capital on revenue-generating items including employees, technology and products.

Resilient Buildings Can Save Lives

Resilient is a combination of both a low vulnerability to major hazards, as well as a high capacity to cope with them. The most crucial policy to affect building resiliency is the adoption and enforcement of current building and fire codes, and considering additional fortification in coastal or high-risk areas. This interactive panel will share resources and observations, and discuss Texas’ laws that create unique barriers to developing a more resilient building stock. Join us to discuss the opportunity before us to avoid future disasters being as costly and disruptive as we have recently seen.

Challenges in the Workforce

In Texas and Oklahoma, approximately 12 – 13% of the construction industry jobs contribute to energy efficiency in buildings. The firms that expect to hire staff over the next year are having a hard time finding qualified applicants. Is this a result of a healthy economy or social shift by young workers from labor to tech industries? Building construction continues to report some of the lowest productivity – which also keeps salaries low and profits marginal. This panel will look at workforce issues in different building industry segments to discuss training needs and business improvement strategies to encourage a new generation of workers to the field.

Breakout Session Topics: 

Beyond Low Hanging Fruit - Public Sector Energy Management

You’ve retrofit your lighting, added controls, and occupancy sensors. Now what? Cities and school districts are leading by example in the development of climate action plans and discovering millions in energy savings opportunities. How are public entities coordinating internal and external stakeholders to identify, fund, and implement ambitious projects? What are the latest tools for data management? How do supply-side considerations impact energy efficiency programs? Join us for a discussion of the opportunities and challenges of the new era of public sector energy management. 

Energy Efficiency Creating Healthy Buildings and Healthy People

The indoor environment is incredibly important to the health of humans, as we spend over 90% of our time indoors and much of that time in commercial buildings. Improving the energy efficiency of the building usually involves tightening the building envelope through air sealing and other various weatherization techniques to reduce the amount of air that we pay to heat and cool from escaping. Protecting indoor air quality and the occupant’s health while saving energy and money during building retrofits isn’t hard to do, but does require the team involved in the building upgrades have a plan and be committed. Join us in a discussion that will identify the most effective ways to ensure maximum energy efficiency in building retrofits while protecting those who occupy the buildings.

The Role of Distributed Energy Resources

Demand response has become integrated into many businesses to avoid peak demand charges, or leveraged by retail electric providers and municipal utilities to control price fluctuations. The adoption of electric vehicles and rooftop solar continue to grow by leaps and bounds, followed by energy storage and other distributed energy resources, but the question is where do they fit into the competitive market? Is there an opportunity to engage all these resources to reduce season peaks that are a result of our extreme temperatures, or to defer or replace capital investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure? The future stabilization of the ERCOT grid requires that we all work together to figure this out.

Raising the Bar for IOU Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs

The potential for energy efficiency in Texas has barely been tapped and the IOU utilities programs are far exceeding their goal, so it is time to raise the bar. To encourage greater participation in the programs will depend on other changes in rule, to reduce the administrative burden, simplify access, or maybe just multi-year planning. Are the incentives enough, or do we need some additional marketing campaigns to drive homeowners and businesses to make the investment in efficiency? We will engage with stakeholders in this breakout to dig into some of these issues. 

The Future of Connected Buildings

Recent ENERGY STAR research reveals that the average commercial building wastes thirty percent of its energy — year-after year. A new generation of connected buildings gives building owners access to more granular, and timelier data than ever before, allowing for data driven management. Third party energy management companies and consultants are creating new models and tools for data analysis that provide actionable information to both building owners and facility managers. This knowledge provides support to both internal and external goals and policies, to reduce consumption, to reduce peak demand, or provide environmental contributions. Participate in the discussion about how these third party services are enhancing business decisions, changing building operations, and contributing to grid reliability. .

The New Era of ESPC's

Energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) is not new, but we are seeing an increase in interest by local governments, school districts and other public agencies. Join ESPC companies and contractors, staff from state and local governments for a discussion about the do’s and don’ts to ESPC contracting, how it differs from a design-built contract, how to this method of financing can benefit your organization and so much more.