This year's Midwest Energy Solutions Conference (MES) incorporated interactive workshops into its agenda for the first time ever, and one of the three workshops focused on Net Zero Energy (NZE) in the Midwest. MEEA staff wanted attendees to consider what Net Zero Energy means for energy efficiency (EE) in the Midwest specifically. (For the purposes of the workshop, “NZE” was referring to any building, development or community that does not use more energy than it produces. See DOE’s NZE definitions).
To most outsiders, the world of energy efficiency probably appears static with slow, incremental changes. A furnace rebate here, light bulb swap-out there, maybe an updated building energy code every few years. But it should come as no surprise to industry insiders that this isn’t the case at all. An explosion of new technology across every part of our economy is rapidly changing our energy savings goals and the ways we identify and capture those savings.
One August afternoon, a few MEEAites embarked on a recon mission to gather data on smart devices in two major retailers of home appliances. Sadly, the budget didn’t approve our request for black turtlenecks and spy gear, so we had to make do with business casual.
Our goal was to get a general idea of what type of technology comes with today’s appliances that are commonly available to the public. As MEEA sets out to not only understand, but also influence on the world of intelligent efficiency, we have recently found ourselves arriving at the same question that starts at the consumer: What do customers experience today when buying new home appliances?
On June 16, MEEA hosted its annual Meeting of the Membership in Rosemont, Illinois just a few miles outside of Chicago. This event was another opportunity for MEEA's members, board and staff to come together to see old friends, make new connections and discuss what’s new in the field of energy efficiency. New board members were elected, and the latest Annual Report was unveiled. It was also a great venue for MEEA to get feedback on what we can do to add value to and improve the member experience.
November 2015 marked the final month for an innovative pilot conducted by MEEA in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, AEP Ohio, Dayton Power and Light (DP&L), several Ohio commercial product distributors and other groups. The six-month pilot was designed to test a novel incentive program model aimed at distributors of v-belts, a common piece of equipment used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. Cogged v-belts (also known as notched v-belts) are about three percent more efficient at power transmission than smooth v-belts and are commonly recommended to replace smooth v-belts in industrial and commercial energy audits.
On July 16, Illinois State University hosted the annual Illinois Renewable Energy Conference, and for the first time ever, the 2015 conference incorporated an energy efficiency track into the conference’s breakout sessions alongside wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. MEEA served on the conference planning committee and convened the three energy efficiency breakout sessions, which were focused on energy efficiency policies, case studies and technical information.
The ACEEE Market Transformation National Symposium brought over 350 energy professionals together in Washington, D.C. in April to cover diverse and emerging topics within the scope of market transformation. With two new cities adopting benchmarking ordinances last week, ACEEE held a timely panel on future uses of benchmarking data and data integrity.