During Day One of EE Global there were 12 different Executive Dialogues. If it was hard to keep up with all of the compelling conversations, we’ve captured the highlights of each session. On this page, we summarize the sessions on the Built Environment track, then on the Investment and Financing track. To read the summaries of the Market Transformation and Government Leadership tracks, click here.
The Built Environment
The first panel on the built environment focused on the importance of building codes and the possibility of standardizing codes across borders. Currently, building codes are implemented in a piecemeal fashion around the globe and while consolidation and standardization would make it easier to adopt and enforce codes, there are barriers that make accomplishing that difficult. The main barriers identified by the panelists included local climate variations (Florida is very different than Alaska), economic variables (local energy costs, interest rates, etc.) and political factors.
One possible way to address these barriers is to increase the disclosure of energy use to allow code developers to better understand how buildings use energy, which would help to optimize the implementation of energy efficient technologies. Another way is to transition to a performance based code, which would give architects and builders greater flexibility towards hitting energy savings targets than the current code system that requires the inclusion of very specific items to comply with the code.
Another session highlighted how the market today does not correctly value the benefits of energy efficiency, which means that public-private partnerships are incredibly important to advancing energy efficiency under current market conditions. These partnerships revolve around the intersection of several players: government agencies, energy service companies (ESCOs), community involvement and academia. Government needs to create a favorable environment to foster energy efficiency investment, academia offers the research capabilities needed to advance energy efficient technologies, communities encourage growth by implementing energy efficiency and ESCOs provide funding to make it all happen. All of these players have a critical role and the partnerships between them are key to further advancements.
Investment & Financing
The first panel focused on some key points of grid efficiency revolving around utility function. Within the utility, panelists targeted customer solutions as the primary method to achieve grid energy efficiency. Specifically, these solutions include updated payment and communication options, as well as increased program engagement among utilities and the public. In turn, these solutions would generate innovation, transparency and open lines for communication.
Currently, utilities are falling behind in providing beneficial services to customers. Coupled with the recent increase of competition within the utility sector, utilities will have to fend off competition by providing these better services or customer solutions, meeting customer satisfaction and re-establishing a relationship with customers. This will not only promote grid efficiency but also contribute to personal reduced usage and surge usage, improved satisfaction and decreased costs.
Another Executive Dialogue focused on how government and the financial community can cooperate to mobilize sufficient capital for energy efficiency. One of the key messages was the need for greater government and private-sector collaboration, as illustrated by EEFIG in Europe. For instance, government can take on new technology risk at levels the private sector may not be able to and then help “crowd in” more private capital for energy efficiency through “green” banks. At the same time, government also relies on direct feedback from private lenders to structure new facilities and reduce development and truncation costs. For its part, the financial industry is ready to do the hard work of building investor confidence, both by introducing credible wholesale products such as “green” bonds but also by prudently segmenting the market, directing funds toward opportunities with viable economics (such as securitization of solar and home retrofits) and clear sources of repayment while continuing to develop strategies to reach more challenging sectors (such as SMEs).
Omar Siddiqui, Senior Technical Executive with EPRI and moderator of the final Finance panel opened the discussion with statistics indicating evolving long-term utility investment in light of falling demand and cheaper fuels. Mike Jones, Power Supply and Environmental Affairs Officer with Seattle City Light, John Di Stasio, President of Large Public Power Council, and Robert King, CEO of SPEER, brought to the table their tremendous experience implementing and driving energy efficiency initiatives with some of the largest utilities in the nation. In response to a question from the audience, the panel concluded that energy efficiency made economic sense for utilities, and as long as the incentives and support remained, they would be obligated to continue their investment in energy efficiency.