Forum Increases Efficiency Awareness
HVAC is a ‘Key Industry’ For Utilities
The EE Global Forum, held in May in Washington, D.C., was a big success for the Alliance to Save Energy (Alliance), the event’s host, who enthusiastically continued its ongoing discussion about the HVAC industry’s role in energy efficiency.
|Robert Wilkins of Danfoss hosted a panel at the 2013 EE Global Forum in Washington discussing the role of utilities in energy efficiency.|
“A key element of advancing energy efficiency globally is to showcase best practices from around the world so that people don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel,” said Kateri Callahan, president, Alliance. “They can adopt and adapt what others are doing. And, equally as important, they can work on collective solutions to global problems. EE Global is a forum that is intended to move good policy, good practices, and good programs so we can pick up the pace in driving energy efficiency to scale. That really, in a nut shell, is what the forum is all about.”
EE Global featured 20 executive dialogue sessions during the two-day event. Callahan said moving to an invitation-only format for the first time in the event’s six years helped ensure attendees were recognized industry thought leaders.
The executive dialogue sessions, though, were an opportunity for all involved to participate in the discussion, which Callahan was very pleased with.
“We don’t allow PowerPoint presentations during the executive dialogue sessions, because these sessions are intended to be conversations,” she said. “Speakers on our executive dialogue sessions would be on a plenary session at most conferences. And, our attendees are equally impressive, with nearly half of those in attendance being executives. There’s a real dialogue and a real exchange of information that occurs amongst energy-efficiency’s decision makers. By survey, people think this is the right format and we are absolutely wowed. Ninety-six percent of people who took the survey said they would recommend the conference to another person and 94 percent said they were planning to join us again next year.”
The forum also featured speeches from recently confirmed Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz; Whirlpool Corp. chairman and CEO, Jeff Fettig; Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus; and Naoko Ishii, president of the Global Environment Facility.
“Earlier in my career, groups like this really didn’t get together and collaborate much,” said Robert Wilkins, vice president, public affairs, Danfoss. “The environment was a bit more contentious, if you will, even adversarial. But today, there’s a strong collaboration between industry leaders, policymakers, and energy advocates, and we’re really pleased to be part of it.
“I think today, there’s strong awareness that increasing energy productivity is a very important goal for the U.S. Energy productivity creates this thrust that will create opportunity for contractors to engage and expand their business,” Wilkins said.
A Key Industry
One of the event’s most popular executive dialogue sessions was the “Seeing Beyond the Now,” discussion. The conversation examined the interrelationships among utility investment in energy-efficiency programs, demand-response programs, utility rates, emerging technologies, and renewable energy.
Chaired by Wilkins, the esteemed panel of presenters included Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.; Ed White, vice president, customer and business strategy, National Grid; Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Mike Rowand, director, technology development, Duke Energy; and Omar Siddiqui, director, energy efficiency, Electric Power Research Institute.
The discussion drew nearly 120 attendees and Wilkins said he was honored to lead the conversation.
“There’s a growing awareness in the electric utility industry that HVACR is the key industry and technology if utilities want to have some effect on their peak-load conditions,” Wilkins said. “On these hot summer days, it’s air conditioning, air conditioning, and more air conditioning. There’s a growing dialogue between these two industries where people are getting together, learning from each other, dispelling old myths, and figuring out how to manage the load in ways that have very little adverse affect on the consumer’s comfort.
“I think a part of the reason this session was so well attended is because these two industries are so critically important and are now working together to solve some of these problems that are going to mean business for contractors and manufacturers in the HVACR industry,” he said.
Callahan noted that attendees’ interest in energy efficiency was surging. “The utilities are really the ones that can get to the customer’s face. They have rebate money and programs in place that help drive energy efficiency across the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors,” she said. “I think Robert [Wilkins] put together a panel of speakers that attracted many visitors. It really had an incredible draw.”
EE Global Forum will return to Washington, D.C. on May 20-21, 2014. For more information, visit http://eeglobalforum.org/.
Publication date: 7/15/2013