After an exciting, jam-packed two days of engaging sessions, speakers, dialogues and networking, we closed the 10th edition of the Energy Efficiency Global Forum with exciting news: we are taking the next EE Global to Copenhagen, Denmark. The announcement was made by Alliance President Kateri Callahan. 

A special thanks to all EE Global attendees, speakers, sponsors and energy efficiency advocates for making this a productive, substantial — and fun – forum. See you next year in Copenhagen!

Read on for summary descriptions of today’s Morning Plenary Session, Plenary Luncheon and eight Executive Dialogue panels.

Presenting Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman with the EE Visionary Award

After the great honor of presenting the EE Visionary Awards Monday to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Alliance to Save Energy awarded national leadership for the first time at EE Global. The EE Visionary Award was presented to Alliance Honorary Board Members Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for their pioneering, bipartisan leadership in energy efficiency. Sens. Portman and Shaheen are among the most effective energy efficiency advocates in the country, tirelessly working to advance policies such as their bipartisan “Portman-Shaheen” legislation that would boost energy efficiency across the economy. “I want to thank the Alliance to Save Energy for their Energy Efficiency Visionary Award, which I’m honored to receive with Senator Portman, and for being strong allies in the fight for a cleaner environment and stronger economy,” Sen. Shaheen said. Read more.

Plenary Session – Innovation, Disruption and Investment: The Road to a New Global Energy Future

The morning plenary was moderated by Alliance President Kateri Callahan and featured Richard Kauffman of the State of New York, Steve Kukoda of International Copper Association, Andreas Schierenbeck of Thyssenkrupp, Maryrose Skyvester of Current powered by GE, and Melissa Lavinson of Pacific Gas & Electric. Skyvester discussed the advantages of being a startup under a company like General Electric, but also addressed how Current has had to stay relentlessly focused, agile, and fast as a small innovator under GE’s larger umbrella. Several of the speakers discussed adapting utility rate structures with an IT platform to integrate distributed energy and shape load. Schierenbeck spoke about how urban mobility requires energy efficient solutions such as Thyssenkrupp’s ACCEL – an accelerated walkway – and MULTI, a rope-less elevator that increases capacity by 50 percent. MULTI for smarter buildings is projected to reduce peak power consumption by 75 percent, reduce the cost of infrastructure, and enable smart building-to-grid integration. Kukoda and Lavinson expanded on those points by emphasizing the efficiency of copper and the potential for EV storage to address ebbs and flows in grid demand. The panel finished with comments on financing and attractive payback periods for technology that provide breakthroughs for energy efficiency.

Executive Dialogues: First Round

The first round of Executive Dialogue Sessions on Tuesday covered key topics such as demand-side flexibility, the Montreal Protocol, electrification and funding.

3A – Valuing Demand-Side Flexibility: Why, Where and How?
Melissa Lavinson of PG&E moderated a panel on demand side flexibility and how to develop policies and price signals to incent deployment of demand side technologies critical to reliable operations including input from Scott Kesler of LO3; Alexander Sauer of the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production; Rick Tempchin of the Edison Electric Institute; and Ronald Voglewede of Whirlpool. Panelists agreed that a lack of more robust demand response is not a technological problem – there are many different technologies and models available, including the innovative virtual microgrids the group heard about from Scott Kesler – but is instead a policy problem. The panel also discussed how to get customers into the conversation and reach those that are inactive. Not only is it important to educate customers on demand response options and their benefits, it is also important to match up capabilities of new connected appliances and technologies with what customers actually want and are looking for. Additionally, utilities must rethink how they price demand response to ensure that customers are able to use connected devices as well as respond to adequate price signals. Finally, Alexander Sauer of the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production gave the session Germany’s perspective on demand response, explaining that even though the country is capable of generating 85 percent of its energy consumption from renewables, the grid stability issue can only be addressed by changing other parameters aside from adding more renewable energy generation capacity.

3B – Montreal Protocol: Does a Phase Down of HFCs Represent the Biggest Ever Energy Efficiency Opportunity?
This panel was moderated by Dan Hamza-Goodacre, Program Director, Energy Efficiency at the ClimateWorks Foundation, and included Stephen Andersen Director of Research at the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development; David B. Calabrese, Vice President, Government Affairs at Daikin U.S. Corporation; Christine Egan, Executive Director & CEO of CLASP; Gilberto De Martino Jannuzzi, Executive Director of the International Energy Initiative; and Samuel Thomas, Senior Energy Efficiency Analyst at the International Energy Agency. As the only UN treaty with unanimous membership, the Montreal Protocol has arguably been the most successful international environmental agreement ever, having phased out usage of 99% of all ozone-depleting substances to date. The 2016 Kigali amendment to the protocol has focused on the phase-out of hydroflurocarbons (HFCs), the non-ozone depleting replacements for the CFCs and HCFCs that were implemented particularly in developing countries, that have high global warming potential (GWP). This phase out is projected to reduce the earth’s warming by 0.5 degrees Celsius, but if combined with energy efficiency it can be doubled to a full degree. The amendment is designed as a bottom-up and collaborative approach, with each country developing their own business plan to achieve their goals and then collaborating between themselves so as not to repeat the same mistakes. Much of the challenges involved are associated with the already lacking infrastructures and lack of institutional knowledge within these countries. In these mostly warmer-climate countries, demand is increasing at a faster rate than supply. There is often a risk of within-country standards for efficiency being set to outdated standards because policymakers and regulators are not well-informed of the most recent data and technology in energy efficient appliances. Daikin is working to address this by working with stakeholders to create broader global efficiency standards that can be referenced by developing countries to base their goals off of. IEA is working on a subscription-based Kigali tracker that will allow for information sharing and scenario building. There is always more need for integration between stakeholders, but this has the potential to be the biggest energy efficiency philanthropic collaboration ever in the developing world.

3C – Making Inroads: Are Electrification and Automation the Future of Societal Energy Efficiency?
This panel, moderated by Bruce Edelston of Southern Company Services, discussed a range of factors that will help to drive electrification in and out of the mobility sector. Panelists discussed the transformative nature of automation in bringing electric vehicles into the market and driving rapid changes in the economics of mobility. Roland Hwang from the Natural Resources Defense Council pointed to falling battery prices as a sign of changing market dynamics, with more and more people being able to afford to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle. Thomas Ashley of Greenlots assured the audience that the rate of rollout of electric vehicles is going to be much more rapid than we can possibly imagine, assisted by the role of automation in bringing greater flexibility, safety and lower costs to mobility. Furthermore, the deployment of a large fleet of batteries in electric vehicles has the potential, at scale, to play a crucial role in electricity markets. The question remains, of course, how to get electric vehicles deployed at scale. Dan Turton of GM pointed out familiarity plays a key role. Consumers who have the chance to drive or ride in an electric vehicle are much more likely to want to experience one again. As a result, GM is helping expose people to electric vehicles through a new all-electric ride-sharing company called Maven and opening opportunities for Lyft drivers to lease electric vehicles. In addition, with the introduction of the Chevy Bolt to the market, GM has made it possible for consumers to purchase a car that can go 238 miles on a single charge for only $30,000. When more cars like the Bolt come onto the market, consumers will have increasing options to purchase electric vehicles. Ammi Amarnath, of the Electric Power Research Institute pointed to the greater possibilities in electrification and distributed resources integration. Agriculture is one of the areas were significant resource conservation can be achieved. Indoor agriculture not only saves more than 90 percent of the water of more traditional methods, but can also be used in space-constrained areas, including in the middle of cities.

3D – Turning on the Spigot: Is Enough Energy Efficiency Flowing Where It’s Needed?
Moderated by Robert Sandoli of the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, this conversation convened speakers Gina Hall of Carbon Trust; David Rodgers of the Global Environment Facility; and Prashant Kapoor of the IFC Climate Business Group. Mr. Sandoli begun the conversation by introducing the three-pronged approach agreed upon by the G20 task force to mobilize funds for energy efficiency projects and increase investments which includes the government, private sector capital and public funds. This task force compiled a toolkit that examines examples of what is and isn’t working in the effort to generate further investment. Ms. Hall spoke to de-risking from the customer perspective by addressing the critical importance of building consumer awareness to the benefits of energy efficiency investment, as well as explaining why we should equip suppliers with the tools to market these lines of credit. On the other hand, Mr. Kapoor talked about how IFC operates in the building market and the opportunities that exist to “turn the brown to green,” and incentivize banks to support green mortgages, green bonds and most importantly sustainable building practices from commercial to affordable housing. GEF’s method to “turning on the spigot”, as Mr. Rodgers discussed, is to train the utility on how to provide demand-side services, a natural aggregator for energy efficiency in local communities. He also encouraged the audience when designing a funding program or considering an energy efficiency investment to find partners in local communities who truly understand the needs there.

Executive Dialogues: Second Round

The second round of Executive Dialogue Sessions covered engaging conversations on current topics, including building labeling, automation policies, service performance contracts and infrastructure.

4A – Building Labeling: Are Current Policies Driving Energy Efficiency Forward?
Led by Tim Lacey, Global Business Director for Dow Building & Construction, the session brought together Dr. Kathleen Hogan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy within DOE; Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation; Jordan Doria, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the North American Insulation Manufacturers’ Association; and Toh Eng Shyan; Director of the Green Mark Department within the Singapore Building and Construction Authority. The experts discussed the role building labeling has in driving greater efficiency standards in residential and commercial markets. There are several examples of these policies across the country, mostly at the city level, but several states have also implemented policies. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently released an analysis of these policies demonstrating that building labeling policies do have an impact on building energy use and can reduce energy consumption by 1.5 – 14 percent. Considering that these policies only apply to larger commercial and multifamily buildings, the actual amount of energy saved through these policies can be significant. There is also evidence to show that these policies are being implemented at an increasing rate with six of the 24 existing policies across the U.S. having been implemented in the last six months. A separate study, conducted by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, attempted to determine the impact of the new building energy benchmarking and transparency in New York City. It found that 77 percent of buildings were making operational improvements and 75 percent were making capital investments in energy efficiency as a result of the policy. Clearly, benchmarking and transparency policies can drive improvements in energy efficiency in buildings and hopefully cities and states will take the lessons learned from others and implement their own policies that will advance energy efficiency even further.

4B – Nudge or Automate: Should Policies Incent Behavior Change or Automation Through Technology?
Moderator Daniel Bresette prefaced the question of whether to nudge behavior or to simply automate desired results through automation by mentioning how he came to energy efficiency through finance, a behavior-driven sector. Much of the behavioral aspects of finance – reduction of risk, increase in reward, maximization of information – were indeed highlighted as important steps in the process of optimizing digital interconnection. However, the panel was split on whether automation or behavior should be paramount. Colleen Calhoun of Current by GE was intrigued by the nudge, but came down on the side of automation. National Grid’s Tom Coughlin chose behavior as the overriding concern. David Bend of Nest leant more credence to automation as a first step, followed by behavioral nudges, an autonudge. Stefan Buettner of the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production also straddled the objectives, calling for policymakers to nudge-o-mate. Panelists discussed pilot programs, such as National Grid’s “Smart Grid Pilot” in Massachusetts, and Current’s smart city test in San Diego, raising various points about the barriers their companies faced in instituting their respective programs. Universally, human behavior was a concern. “It is very important to understand the demand side,” Buettner said. “It helps to create the argument convince the consumer. Behavioral buy-in means achieving big things.” Whether providing a desirable product that saves consumers in its out-of-the-box default setting, or whether back-end automation makes processes so easy they’re hard to avoid, panelists agreed that making decisions as simple and as transparent as possible – perhaps no decision necessary – is the key to getting traction. Leveraging first adopters to use as peer pressure, gamification of applications, turning the black box of data management into a transparent box, and consumer engagement were all pathways to turning technology into a tool instead of a box on a shelf, collecting dust.

4C – Spanning Sectors: Can Energy Service Performance Contracts Expand Beyond Buildings?
Moderated by Hannon Armstrong President and CEO Jeff Eckel, this panel discussed success stories and opportunities from energy savings performance contracts as well as limitations on their expansion. On the domestic front, panelists and audience members were optimistic that ESPCs would continue to expand under the new administration, noting that shrinking budgets could encourage ESPCs and that projects could fit well in the administration’s plans for a national infrastructure package. Franz Wuerffmansdobler, Senior Policy Adviser to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del), said the outlook for energy legislation affecting ESPCs and other efficiency initiatives, such as the Portman-Shaheen bill, is uncertain. Satish Kumar of the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy outlined that India has seen growing success in energy-saving procurement practices of late, but enormous gaps remain between best practices and typical procedures. Mark McDonough of American Water and Miranda Ballentine, formerly with the U.S. Air Force, respectively, talked about the enormous savings potential from water infrastructure privatization and ESPCs in the federal government, particularly at military installations. A shared view among all speakers, however, is that there remains a lack of awareness and misunderstanding about the financial benefits of ESPCs.

4D – The Age of Aging Infrastructure: Is Energy Efficiency the Cornerstone to Modernization?
This panel was moderated by Sam Adams of WRI and featured Klaus Breil of DENEFF; Casey Dinges of the Society of Civil Engineers; Mark Menzer of Danfoss; Christopher Magalhaes of Connecticut Green Bank; and Bruce Ciallella of NJEDA. The panel discussed the importance of project planning with engineers and architects when designing infrastructure investments and the role of advantageous low interest rates on loans and bonds. All speakers agreed that water systems are a critical, but unseen component of infrastructure that is often ignored with almost six billion gallons of water leakage in America daily. The D+ rating given to U.S. infrastructure in the Society of Civil Engineers’ last “Infrastructure Report Card” led speakers to discuss the need to finance transit systems. Transit was the category with the worst decline from the previous report card with mass transit access only available to half the U.S. population. The panel also discussed how energy infrastructure investments need to include all parts of the solution such as renewables, resilience, and health and safety measures. The panel wrapped up by outlining the importance of quasi-public financing authorities like the Connecticut Green Bank, which reduce the perceived risk of investments in energy infrastructure and address liquidity risk by aggregating complex loans for energy efficiency projects.

A Fireside Chat on Energy Efficiency in Rural Communities

Energy efficiency investments in rural areas make good social and economic sense. That was the big takeaway of the fireside chat with Andrew Steer, President & CEO of the World Resources Institute and Jim Rogers, Former Chairman & CEO of Duke Energy, facilitated by Clinton Vince, Chair of the Energy Sector at Dentons. Vince opened the debate by asking the speakers about the current state of electricity in rural communities and what role energy efficiency can play on a broad scale. Because they are usually isolated from urban areas, rural communities lack basic infrastructure for transportation, electricity and access to the services and facilities that urban centers offer. To address this, Andrew Steer suggested that we start with smart investments. “There is no shortage of money in the world,” he said. “What is necessary is to make sure the investments go to the right place at the right time.” Jim Rogers added that in developing countries this deficiency is not always visible. “We have millions of people going to medical clinics with no electricity,” Rogers mentioned. He continued: “Electricity should be a basic human right,” and governments and institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations have the power and the ability to make this happen. To close the conversation, Clinton Vince provoked Steer and Roger by asking them to present arguments on why continuing to defend energy efficiency in the current U.S. political climate is important. Both speakers defended action on climate change and reiterated the effect it can have on the economy and security of people across the globe. “The paybacks will come at our children and grandchildren’s lives,” Rogers pointed out. Steer concluded, “Why wouldn’t we invest in things we know have great return of investment potential?”