6th Annual Midwest Energy Data and Building Codes Conference Recap

2015 MEEA Codes Conference

MEEA held its 6th Annual Midwest Energy Data and Building Codes Conference in Minneapolis, MN from November 3 -5, 2015. The event was a success with over 110 professionals from various sectors in the building community in attendance throughout the two and a half day conference. Attendees included professionals from federal, state and local energy offices, federal laboratories, utilities, consulting agencies, construction companies, and code enforcement agencies. Throughout the conference, attendees had an opportunity to learn from energy data and code experts, network and share ideas with colleagues, enjoy Minneapolis establishments and the unseasonably warm weather!

Day 1:  Energy Data Session

Bench - Katie Jones Schmitt -MN CEE

Katie Jones Schmitt, from the Center for Energy and Environment, highlights their work with the City of Minneapolis on energy data cleansing and analysis efforts.

The Conference began with presentations focused on the topic of energy data collection and management, as well as building energy benchmarking programs. With nearly 80 attendees, this portion of the conference nearly doubled in size from previous years! As more and more building owners, managers, and organizations understand the benefits of tracking and using energy consumption data for their buildings, MEEA see this trend continuing.

After a brief welcome to Minneapolis by Brendon Slotterback, Sustainability Manager of the City of Minneapolis who was instrumental in passage of the city’s Commercial Building Benchmarking and Transparency ordinance, the day was organized into four panels of varying on topics. The first panel included cities and states that are leading initiatives on energy data collection and use – Leaders in the Midwest. The second included speakers whom have experience in navigating data collection, cleansing, and use of the data for energy savings. After lunch, the third set of panelists described different means to measure and collect data – beyond energy and municipal boundaries – to simultaneously include indoor air quality (IAQ), acoustics, and transportation energy use. The last panel dove into the successes and unique challenges of energy data collection and results within multi-family housing buildings.

At the end of the day one, Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager for MEEA whom facilitated the day, led attendees through a networking and group think exercise to process how all these presentations related to each other. This exercise helped solidify concepts discussed and provided an opportunity for attendees to make suggestions for next year’s event. If you are interested in the full breakdown of presentations and panelists, see the day’s Energy Data Agenda. PDF’s of each presentation will be available shortly.

Day 2: Codes Session 

The second day of the conference initiated the energy building codes portion of the conference. This session had approximately 80 building professionals in attendance to kick things off. To start the day, Isaac Elnecave called on contacts in various states in the Midwest to discuss the current status and energy code progress from each state.

Bruce Selway - State update

Bruce Selway, Energy Efficiency Education Manager for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, provides a state update for Illinois and highlights the Illinois Energy Conservation Code Training Manuals and recent 2015 IECC adoption process.

After the state update and introductions, the conference began a packed schedule with presenters from around the nation. The first panel started with a technical presentation and demonstration on the NREL Building Energy Optimization (BEopt) Modeling Program. This presentation highlighted the capabilities this free energy modeling system has in assessing the energy use and construction cost of a new residential energy building code.  During the second panel, we heard experiences from professionals involved in the 2015 IECC adoption processes in Illinois and Vermont.  The 2015 Illinois Energy Conservation Code is slated for adoption on January 1, 2016 and Vermont adopted a version of the 2015 IECC – with solar energy provisions in the Energy Rating Index (ERI) compliance section – in December 2014.

Eric Wilson - BEopt

Eric Wilson, Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), demonstrates the NREL Building Energy Optimization (BEopt) Modeling program.

After lunch, Jeremy Williams, Project Manager for the Department of Energy (DOE) and Isaac Elnecave provided an update on the DOE Code Compliance Studies in the third panel of the day. Jeremy spoke about the DOE Code Compliance methodology and preliminary results from states included in the study, and Isaac Elnecave (MEEA) presented MEEA’s findings from the first phase of the Kentucky Code Compliance study.

The fourth panel – on ventilation – brought in experts to talk about the newly adopted ventilation requirements in Minnesota and the results from a ventilation effectiveness study conducted in the Pacific Northwest. To wrap up the day, Chris Mctaggart, Executive Director for the Midwest Home Performance Association (MHPA) discussed the role that the MHPA will have as third party verifiers become more prevalent in code compliance.  Ian Blanding, Building Policy Associate for MEEA, presented his preliminary findings after analyzing the rated features of over 5000 HERS rated homes in Iowa.

Alison Lindburg - MN Comp Collaborative

Alison Lindburg, Policy Director, Fresh Energy, highlights the important codes compliance work that emerged from the Minnesota Codes Collaborative.

Day 3: Codes Session

The final day of the conference focused on code compliance and opportunities for energy codes and building performance in the future. The first panel – designed around energy code compliance – featured speakers discussing the approach to developing an effective commercial compliance study and effective state energy code compliance collaborative. The second panel of the day highlighted the potential development and benefits of including a Multi-family chapter in the IECC. The last panel of the conference looked ahead to the future of buildings and brought in high performance building experts to discuss construction practices that can achieve significant improvements in building energy performance over simply building a home to the current energy code.  For a full recap of the presentations from day two and three, please review the Codes Session Agenda.

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The MEEA Buildings Team celebrating a great conference! From left to right, Ian Blanding (Building Policy Associate), Chris Burgess (Technical Manager for Codes Compliance), Steve Kismohr (Sr. Technical Manager), Isaac Elnecave (Sr. Policy Manager), Kelsey Horton (Sr. Program Associate)


Thank You

In all, the event was a huge success having brought together public, private and non- profit organizations to learn and share ideas about current and future building energy performance. MEEA would like to thank all those who attended and were involved in the 6th Annual energy building codes and benchmarking conference – your work and commitment to building performance throughout the year is what makes this event possible. The planning has already begun for next year’s highly anticipated event, so stay tuned.