The topic “The Owner Nexus: Will Building Owners Transform Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment?” drew city leaders, building owners, engineers, builders, managers, and other stakeholders to Denver to discuss the growing concerns over energy and climate change in the building industry.

The event was a part of the Danfoss EnVisioneering Symposium series, which aims to discuss and develop new technologies for sustainable business growth through engineering innovation, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility. The symposium preceded the annual conference of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), also in Denver.

A round-table luncheon discussed “Cities in Transformation” and was followed by presentations and discussions with experts from Austin Energy, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Clinton Climate Initiative, Trane, BOMA California, Direct Energy, and Danfoss.

During one presentation, it was noted that while many cities have not implemented strong energy-efficiency policies, there are some cities that are on the frontier in driving deployment of energy-efficiency technology.

“Their reasons, expectations, and experience are an invaluable resource for others who believe energy efficiency needs to be an important part of our future,” according to a statement from Danfoss. “It is increasingly important to approach energy efficiency strategically, and that means having a very clear idea of technology’s potential and what new technologies are on the horizon.

“Building owners and managers are a decisive link in the energy efficiency chain. If they believe energy efficiency will be an important part of the future, chances are, it will be. If they are not persuaded, it will be much more difficult.”


Fred Yebra, director, Commercial Energy Division, Austin Energy, said he is hopeful that aggressively increasing energy codes will allow cities to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality in homes and buildings. Yebra said, “The city of Austin is on the forefront of the entire green building movement and has the most aggressive energy codes in the nation. Our strategic plan is to have a 15 percent increase in energy efficiency by the year 2020. To do this, Austin Energy and the city of Austin are establishing rebate programs for each segmented group in the city, conducting demand-side management, and increasing the amount of renewable energies such as wind and solar power for both residential and commercial.”

As a result of the energy programs in Austin, the city plans to help customers reduce their energy bills by about $30 million, he said. While many utilities have a goal to generate more revenue and profits, Austin Energy works with the utilities to make energy efficiency more profitable. And, in the end, Austin Energy is helping to reduce pollution, while stimulating the local economy, he said.


“Building owners are very serious about attending to energy consumption,” said Tod McKelvy, executive director, Berding-Weil, who also represents BOMA California. “Cities, governments, and utilities are continually seeking ways to properly address this concern. It will be an ongoing process, but for some states, it already has a finite term. In California, we know we have to address energy-efficiency issues by 2012-2030 to adhere to the zero net energy policies.”

Jurgen Suss, vice president of Advanced Engineering and Technology at Danfoss, spoke about the technological frontier and how refrigerants, variable-speed compressors and micro channel technology will play a key role in increasing building efficiency. Suss said, “It is essential to look at the types of refrigerants and technologies used to cool a building in order to determine the best ways to enhance energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of a building. Minimizing the greenhouse emissions can be as simple as ensuring systems are actually operating in an optimal way.”


Murray Weightman, general manager of HVAC Services, Direct Energy, an energy retailer, stressed the importance of finding oilless energy solutions. He noted, “If you don’t believe in global warming, and you continue contributing to carbon emissions, and you are wrong, it is a terrible thing to leave for your children. But, if you view global warming as a reality and you continue to reduce emissions, the worst that could happen is that you wind up with a better place to live.”

The overall consensus from the presentations and discussion was that the built environment is taking a new shape and will continue to move in a more energy-efficient direction in the coming years. The driving forces behind the transformation are energy costs, and the codes and standards set in place by city leaders, building owners, engineers, builders, managers, and other stakeholders.

The next Danfoss EnVisioneering Symposium will be held Nov. 14 in Carlsbad, Calif., just prior to the annual meeting of AHRI.

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Publication date:09/01/2008