Here’s What You Missed at MEEA’s Annual Codes Conference

sunrise on the st. louis arch

The 9th annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference has come and gone. This year, the conference was held at the Magnolia Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri from November 28-29. With one of the highest turn outs yet, this year’s conference was one of the best yet, filled with great discussion, networking and insights into energy codes.

Couldn’t make it? Find out what you missed and download the speaker presentations below.

Day 1

Local Projects Leading the Way

The conference kicked off on Tuesday, November 28 with our plenary speaker Frank Oswald, the Building Commissioner for the City of St. Louis, who highlighted the recent adoption of the 2018 IECC and building benchmarking ordinance, and shared his experiences working for the city. Following his presentation, the group discussed state and local energy code adoption efforts. Gretchen Waddell-Barwick from the Missouri Sierra Club Chapter described how local engagement and strong collaborations are key to advancing energy codes in Missouri. This presentation spurred productive discussion from representatives from states around the Midwest about current and future energy code adoption and training efforts.

Robust Codes Make Resilient Buildings

Following this discussion, we heard Michael Baechler (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Richard Graves (Center for Sustainable Building Research) talk about their work on building resilience and the role the energy code plays in ensuring local communities are resilient and sustainable.

Improving Performance in Existing Buildings

The next group of presentations focused on existing buildings. MEEA’s Ian Blanding discussed a recent research project that sought to better understand commercial  energy code enforcement in existing buildings. Michael Kuk,CERx Solutions LLC, then reviewed opportunities for improving efficiency in existing buildings and the role commissioning plays in ensuring buildings are performing as designed. To round out the panel, Go Sustainable Energy’s Gregory Raffio  walked us through a project on the Ohio History Center that focused on significantly reducing its energy consumption through deep energy retrofits.

Smart Devices and the Internet of Things

Later, Tiina Aardemae (DNV GL) and Tom Fischer (VEIC) discussed the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it can be used to drive energy efficiency. Tiina provided an overview of the IoT and discussed its role in the future of smart building design. Tom delved into installing smart meters and shared success stories from the field.

Harnessing the Power of Big Data

To finish up the first day, we heard from experts on data and codes compliance. Pete Olson from Cedar Falls Utilities gave us his unique perspective from a utility working in this space, sharing lessons learned from their residential incentive program ensuring heating and cooling equipment is both appropriately sized and properly installed. U.S. Department of Energy’s Jeremy Williams then gave us an update on the Residential Energy Codes Field Studies and shared some preliminary results from states across the nation. To wrap up the day, MEEA’s Alison Lindburg discussed energy code utility programs focused on codes compliance and gave us an update on ongoing and upcoming projects in the Midwest.

After the sessions had concluded, we headed over to Pi Pizza for some great food, drinks and conversation.

Day 2

The Promise and Path to Zero Energy Codes

The second day of the conference began with a dive into zero energy codes. Eric Makela (New Buildings Institute) started with a presentation on how zero energy codes can lead the way for carbon reductions. John McHugh from McHugh Energy Consultants discussed a pathway to zero energy codes and how California leveraged energy codes to help meet its GHG reduction goals. Caleb Arthur (Sun Solar) offered the renewable energy perspective and told us about their “reduce before your produce” business model that couples energy efficiency updates with solar.

Prefabricated Homes: Efficient, Resilient, Cost-Effective

Matt Belcher, Verdatek Solutions LLC, wrapped up the energy codes portion of the conference. Matt shared his experience working on prefabricated homes and answered questions from the audience.

Benchmarking Sessions

During lunch, we shifted gears to focus on benchmarking and energy data. To kick things off, the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Johanna Schweiss taught us all about benchmarking and how to use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a tool used for benchmarking buildings.

Benchmarking Case Studies in Action 

After, MEEA’s Alison Lindburg led a discussion on the challenges of benchmarking and the solutions people have found to address them. Panelists included Joe Williams and Cathie Funderberg from Express Scripts, Tim Wonish from the Clayton School District, Anand Natarajan from the City of Cleveland, and Rob Buchanan from Xcel Energy. Each gave a quick presentation on how their organization uses energy data, the hurdles they’ve come across along the way and how to overcome them.

Beyond Benchmarking Carousel

To close out the conference, we participated in a “Beyond Benchmarking Carousel”, where presenters spoke to smaller groups and gave a quick overview of what they’re doing in the benchmarking space. Participants rotated  to different presenters to hear a variety of perspectives. Speakers in the carousel included Kristine Steiger from the Schafer Marketing Group, Natalie Meyer from Siemens, Eric Merker from Sitton Energy Solutions, Sean Sullivan from MEEA, and Anand Natarajan from the City of Cleveland. This format was a great way to get a glimpse into the myriad of ways groups are using energy data to improve building performance.


After the sessions were over, participants were invited to a happy hour at Robie’s, where conversation continued, and we were all able to reflect on the last few days over drinks and appetizers. It was the perfect ending to a great conference!

Thanks again to everyone that made their way to St. Louis, and to our generous supporters of the conference. We hope to see you all next year!