Carbon a Key Focus at ACEEE’s Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Every other year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) welcomes energy industry professionals from around the country to its Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Centered around the theme, “Efficiency: The Core of a Clean Energy Future,” the 2020 virtual conference included 430 papers, 13 panel discussions, three plenary sessions, and ACEEE’s annual Champions of Energy Efficiency Awards.

Staff from New Buildings Institute (NBI) contributed to eight papers, either as lead authors or co-authors, that were accepted into the conference proceedings and included as supplemental research for panel discussions. A summary of those papers follows.

Maclay Architecture. Waitsfield Town Office, Vermont.

Strategic Energy Management for Net Zero Energy Buildings — co-authored by David B. Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council (lead) and Kevin Carbonnier, NBI
This paper discusses how strategic energy management (SEM) can be applied to facilitate increases in the level of zero net energy achievement over the years. SEM is based on the principle of continual improvement in energy performance. Organizations set quantified targets, create a process for determining whether they are on the path to meeting the target, and make adjustments as needed.

Arc of Progress in Getting to Zero Energy and Carbon – co-authored by Cathy Higgins, Alexi Miller, and Stacey Hobart, NBI
In this paper, the authors describe the ways in which leading jurisdictions are developing roadmaps, policy tools, energy codes, and other mechanisms to create an “arc of progress” to scale zero energy and zero carbon buildings. It describes the core foundations of zero carbon policies to support policymakers, regulators, governments, program managers, and other stakeholders.

Blind to Blinds: Opening our Eyes to Savings from New Automated Shading Systems — co-authored by Cathy Higgins and Kevin Carbonnier, NBI (leads); Katie Wilson, Michael Mutmansky and John Rossi, TRC Companies; Paul Mathew, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
This paper presents lab results from the “Leading in Los Angeles” project, which set out to develop a scalable building retrofit solution to achieve 20% or more whole-building energy savings. Measures include LED lighting with advanced controls, automated interior shading with a daylight redirecting upper portion, and basic HVAC controls commissioning. The paper takes a deep dive into results from one office and one higher education demonstration site.

Maclay Architecture. Putney School Field House, Vermont.

Schools Districts: Finding Their Stride in Getting to Zero — co-authored by Reilly Loveland and Amy Cortese, NBI (leads); Nik Kaestner, San Francisco Unified School District; Jeff Medwetz, Boulder Valley School District; Aaron Presberg, Portland Public Schools
In this paper, the authors explain how three school districts have leveraged efficiency to make significant progress toward their goal to achieve zero energy in all their facilities. It builds on real world experience, national research, and participation in programs such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Accelerator Program and California’s Proposition 39 ZNE School Retrofit Pilot program. It can serve as a blueprint to be emulated by energy efficiency programs and school districts alike.

Carbon Goals Call for Carbon Metrics: Giving Cities and States What They Need to Meet Their Goals (Codes for Loads) — co-authored by Jim Edelson, Alexi Miller and Kevin Carbonnier, NBI
The authors explain here how energy conservation codes can begin to incorporate additional grid-based values into energy code scopes and metrics. The foundational analysis and code framework laid out in this paper can help practitioners develop code that remains relevant and impactful as building-grid interactions, and the grid itself, continue to evolve.

New Metrics for Building-Grid Integration — co-authored by Alexi Miller and Kevin Carbonnier, NBI
Since mid-2018, GridOptimal has been developing ways to measure the grid impacts of building features and operating characteristics to support a new design approach that prioritizes better building-grid integration across the building stock. This paper provides a detailed explanation of the metrics used by the GridOptimal Buildings Initiative to pave the way for a large-scale transformation of the North American electricity grid.

Commercial Energy Code Compliance – Just the Facts, Ma’am — authored by Kim Cheslak, NBI (lead); Michael Rosenberg, Reid Hart and Matthew Tyler, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Jeremy Williams, U.S. Department of Energy
The authors of this paper analyze findings of the Commercial Energy Code Field Study, a project of the U.S. Department of Energy that looks at what percent of newly constructed buildings comply with the energy code, and how much money and energy could be saved if compliance were to increase. The authors identify areas where the greatest return—bang for the buck—exists in improving compliance with codes in commercial buildings. In addition, they make recommendations for jurisdictions looking to use the methodology to maximize energy code savings achieved in the field.

How New Metrics for Time-of-Use Carbon Can Help (and not Hinder) Decarbonization Goals — co-authored by David Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council (lead) and Alexi Miller, NBI
This paper recommends new metrics for energy ratings and energy code compliance that take into account time of use, ensuring building energy codes can remain relevant and useful in tomorrow’s energy paradigm.


We want to extend a huge thank you to conference co-chairs, Jessica Granderson of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Diana Hun of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as their team, for their dedication to making the conference happen despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic. 

We also extend our condolences to the family and colleagues of Cecil Corbin-Mark, who passed away suddenly in October after suffering a stroke. Cecil, deputy director and director of policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, delivered a keynote at Summer Study. Corbin-Mark fought fearlessly to protect the health and wellbeing of frontline communities.


Download any of the 430 papers accepted into the 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings from their website.

by Stacey Hobart, Communications Director


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