Boston’s Q2 series on Smart Buildings and Grid Modernization this past June brought together a diverse crowd of energized and engaged stakeholders to discuss the city’s future energy system. The series entailed a variety of events that provided attendees the opportunity to establish and reinforce relationships, to exchange diverse perspectives, and to take leadership roles within the local energy stakeholder community.
The Washington Advanced Energy (WAE) Q2 Stakeholder Breakfast started with a call to urgency, HG Chissell - Founder and CEO of AEG - emphasized the importance of finding grid modernization solutions that were meaningful, effective, and would truly address the challenges facing D.C.’s energy sector in the long run. The risk stakeholders face is providing a well-meaning solution that is ultimately an unhelpful, quick fix. It was a fitting way to begin a meeting of energy experts and problem solvers gathered to discuss how the District’s building stock and electricity infrastructure can be updated to create a 3D Grid: decarbonized, distributed, and digitalized.
On May 31, 2018, Chicago Advanced Energy held its Stakeholder Breakfast on the topic of Smart Buildings and Grid Modernization. Once the room was at capacity and coffee was on the table, H.G. Chissell – CEO of Advanced Energy Group – kicked off the meeting. The group then heard five presentations from discussion leaders, who offered their takes on smart buildings and grid modernization:
New York Advanced Energy (NYAE) hosted its Q2 event keeping with the theme of Smart Buildings and Grid Modernization, on 24th of May 2018 at the Duane Morris office. The event brought together diverse discussion leaders and participants to collectively take on the most pressing challenges faced by the urban energy ecosystem in New York, which includes but is not limited to modernizing the grid, retrofitting existing buildings, developing incentives and value propositions for building owners, and recent policy implications.
As part of Advanced Energy Group’s mission to facilitate the energy transformation of our cities, the Q2 Series is focused on Smart Buildings and Grid Modernization. The overarching problem is that building operations account for 75% of the nation’s energy consumption, and 70% of the grid is over 25 years old. Increasing costs of energy, threats of climate change, and developments in energy policy and technology require buildings and the grid to be improved upon.
Cities and states across the U.S. have been paying more and more attention to the modernization of the electric grid, and our nation’s capital is no exception. Cost reductions and improved performance of distributed energy resources (DERs) are creating opportunities for the grid to operate more efficiently and at lower costs. Washington, DC is keen to take advantage of these opportunities, and over the past few years the city has been exploring how the buildings and facilities that have been primarily end-users of electricity can actually assist in power management and delivery across the District.
Set forth by Mayor De Blasio, OneNYC has established the goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Reaching this target relies on a variety of energy efficiency efforts. Currently, 80% of GHG emissions in NYC come from buildings and taking into account the pace of current developments throughout the City, 90% of existing buildings are expected to remain standing in 2050.
On February 22, Advanced Energy Group held its first Stakeholder Breakfast of the year in Washington, DC. The topic this time: Resiliency, Critical Infrastructure, and Microgrids. After the significant damage wrought by last year’s hurricane season, the subjects were more relevant than ever. The event’s large attendance reflected the importance of the subject matter, as the room was filled to capacity.
As a coastal city, New York City faces increasingly multifaceted levels of risks from extreme weather events. Some parts of the city are still recovering from the impact of Superstorm Sandy from 2012. This situation highlights the massive financial and social cost of these types of disasters, as well as our unpreparedness for such life-threatening storms. The “superstorm” caused $65 billion in damage, 159 deaths, and destroyed over half a million homes. Preparing for such extreme weather events like Sandy requires a lot of risk assessment and has become one of the most worrisome challenges facing city leaders around the country. With recent hurricanes causing extreme flooding in places like Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, these critical infrastructure risks apply across the country and across the globe.
As a New England coastal city, Boston experiences a wide spectrum of weather conditions. With climate change, the weather events Boston is so well known for are projected to increase in frequency and intensity. Boston will have to respond the increasing impacts of extreme temperatures, enhanced precipitation, coastal storms, and sea level rise. These natural events negatively impact Boston in countless ways, but one major threat is the disruption of the energy infrastructure. As the life-force for every city, a reliable supply of energy at all times is of critical importance.
In 2016, Washington, D.C. took a step forward in this direction when it became a member of 100 Resilient Cities, joining a network of over 1,000 metropolises around the world dedicated to improving the resiliency of their systems and infrastructure. As a member of this network, D.C. is currently developing a Resilience Strategy to prepare the District for future natural and man-made threats. This strategy is being developed through a collaborative effort that will incorporate input from a wide range of stakeholders, including community leaders, government authorities, and the private sector. The resulting Resilience Strategy aims to be comprehensive and capable of addressing the entire spectrum of threats that DC and other cities face. Certain initiatives like Sustainable D.C. 2.0 have been incorporated into the plan and are already underway.
New York Advanced Energy Group’s Q4 2017 Stakeholder Breakfast on the topic of Mobility and Transportation, co-hosted by Duane Morris, highlighted challenges and success stories of the city’s transportation sector. Speakers at the forefront of mobility and transportation, including John Markowitz of New York Power Authority, Thomas Abdallah and Nora Ostrovskaya of MTA, Mark Simon of NYC DOT, Tim Kruekniet of EVBox, and Nick Hill of ReachNow car sharing by BMW, led the discussion on policies, goals, and new technologies for the city of New York. The stakeholder member discussion tapped into collective thought, solutions, and innovative ideas for a more effective and sustainable transportation sector for New York City.
We closed out our inaugural season in Boston with a great line-up, bringing multiple perspectives to a challenge that requires an enormous amount of coordination. Speakers at the breakfast covered a wide range of related topics from how to get more ridership on public transit and address their needs, to how we decarbonize transportation, to how do we deal with the specific issues concerning EV deployments and charging infrastructure?
The United States burns about 19 million barrels of oil a day, with roughly 70% of those barrels used to accommodate its vast transportation system, a collection of daily activities from driving to work, shipping goods across states, to experiencing the All-American road trip vacation. The consequences of immense oil consumption—such as environmental degradation and economic volatility, as well as contributing to the negative effects of climate change—pose a massive threat to different aspects of the country’s well-being.
As Discussion Leaders, stakeholder members, and attendees prepared for the Advanced Energy Group’s Q3 2017 events in Washington, D.C. (9.21), Chicago (9.27), and New York City (10.5), the AEG team has been presented with myriad city- and topic-specific inquiries. These questions were expounded upon during the inaugural Boston Advanced Energy Stakeholder Breakfast on September 14th, and the most salient point that comes across, from even the most granular of examinations, has been that of the speed of change taking place in renewable energy generation, storage, and the technologies associated with the ‘internet of things’ (IoT).
Since its inception, the Advanced Energy Group has relied heavily upon its members to frame future discussions by raising concerns and recommending solutions through one of the most vital tools at AEG’s disposal – the post-event survey. These surveys are not only the key to unlocking essential resources for our stakeholder members, but a primary channel for the AEG team to explore potential discussion topics and address specific challenges that may not occur in other cities, as well.
Could there be a more perfect venue than the U.S. Green Building Council’s headquarters for hosting our Washington Advanced Energy (WAE) Q2 2017 Stakeholder Meeting on Smart Buildings & Grid Modernization? We could not think of one. Dave Witek (Senior Vice President, Finance, Operations & Administration) and the USGBC Team graciously hosted us in their LEED Platinum (2009) space that showcased what smart buildings can do.