2021 Innovation Summit Wrap Up - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  April 2, 2021

2021 Virtual Innovation Summit Wrap-Up

 Uniting industry buyers and suppliers under the theme of “Emerging Technologies for the Future of Energy Management,” Smart Energy Decisions (SED) presented its 2021 Innovation Summit as a virtual event in a very real and ever-changing world of the energy transition.

In addition to general sessions and buyer-only discussions to share industry successes and challenges, the event facilitated more than 250 one-to-one meetings between buyers and suppliers.

“We are proud of the fact that this was, without question, our most successful virtual event yet,” said John Failla, Founder and Editorial Director of Smart Energy Decisions. “Even so, we aren’t resting on our laurels – we are already working on refinements that will take our June event, the Virtual Renewable Energy Forum, to the next level.”

The event offered unique opportunities for attendees to network with a variety of buyer-only sessions in order to become educated on the latest industry topics, share best practices and discuss pressing industry issues. A pre-conference interactive roundtable offered a first look at the results of SED’s Pulse Survey on “The State of Decarbonization,” followed by insights from session sponsor Edison Energy on “Developing an Integrated Energy Decarbonization Roadmap.”

SED continued its series of Peer2Peer sessions to discuss “Embracing New Technology,” featuring an overview of new solutions and technologies from Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Director of Educational Programs, followed by a discussion on how buyers can leverage knowledge and experience to help each other.

The event also offered the first Smart Energy Decisions Town Hall, which featured buyers sharing announcements of new programs, a discussion on industry topics including decarbonization, energy data management, and return-to-office issues, and a presentation on Voluntary Carbon Markets from Kyle Harrison, Senior Analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Following are highlights from the Innovation Summit general sessions. More extensive coverage will follow in our Innovation Summit Insights report, available later this year.

“Intel 2030”

Referencing technology as a key factor in the ability for Intel to reach its 2030 goals, Marty Sedler, Director of Global Utilities & Infrastructure, Intel Corporation, said, “We believe that everything is either going to fail or succeed by technology. That’s just the bottom line. We all have goals, but we all know that you can’t reach them unless things change. And the way things are going to change is going to be inventing new systems, smart grids, and new technology - and then making them economic and getting them in mass production.” With 106 onsite projects using 22 different technologies currently running, said Sedler, “Sometimes we like to test things for fun. We have a project in India where when you walk into the lobby of our building, you’re walking on kinetic tiles that produce a little bit of electricity that generates lobby energy. It isn’t efficient yet and there’s a long pay-back but we wanted to test it to see if something like this might start to help. We’re always looking for those kinds of new technologies.”

“Decarbonizing with Integrated Energy Management”

Scott Hart, Vice President/General Manager, NRG Business – Texas called the new focus on decarbonization a fundamental change for the industry that is leading to a modernization of the grid. “You’re taking a construct of the 20th century with large, industrial-sized generation plants, transmission lines, distribution lines, and now seeing the introduction of large-scale renewables. It’s going to take us some time to manage both the supply and demand operations of a grid such as we have here in ERCOT, but I don’t think there’s any going back at this point. We’ve proven that renewables are economic, they certainly meet our environmental objectives, and now it’s a matter of modernizing the grid and helping customers understand that how they buy and use their energy has an impact on not only environmental quality but also their budget outcome. And you don’t have to sacrifice anymore. It used to be one or the other. Now, it’s a win-win.

“Cal Poly Fast Tracks Decarbonization”

Dennis Elliot, Director of Energy, Utility and Sustainability, Cal Poly State University, revealed that after meeting their 2020 goals five years early – even as the campus doubled in square footage and numbers of students - there are plans to fast-track their next goal, which calls for all of California State University’s 23-campus system to cut emissions by 80% from a 1990 baseline by 2050. “We are definitely exploring opportunities to accelerate that goal. All of us are watching in real-time as the impacts of climate change are unfolding and impacting our communities. That means 2050 is not fast enough for the planet or the people that live on it, and anybody who could be doing more should be doing more and our policy should be more aggressive.”

 “Challenges of Energy Management for Healthcare”

The winner of the 2020 Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Award for Healthcare Energy Data Management was Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Evelyn Lauder Breast and Imaging Center for their Virtual Energy Monitoring and Fault Detection and Diagnostics. Robert Berninger, Director of Plant Operations, Energy & Engineering explained that the project came about due to a New York City law requiring all buildings over 25,000 square feet to have an energy audit and retro-commissioning done every ten years. “What we found in the past that when we’ve done retro-commissioning in a building is that, yes, we’re able to lower our energy usage and get the building back to its design intent, but then if you’re not watching, it starts to creep back up to its old profile, be it things not working correctly or staff making adjustments without coming back to make the corrections or the fix. With fault diagnostic detections, we were able to find out right away if something is not working or is not within parameters, so we can get on top of it before too much energy is wasted.”

“IoT and the Future of Building Management”

After more than a year of dealing with the effects of the pandemic on energy management, Ken Watson, Senior Manager of Key Account, BuildingOS noted, “Organizations that have used 2020 as a benchmark for energy consumption planning and climate goals, will want to look at revising their planning moving forward. There are so many unusual variables: lowered energy consumption from reduced occupancy, potentially greater consumption from severe weather events, and adherence to new ASHRAE guidelines, which is going to typically increase energy consumption at those facilities. If we’re talking about national or global portfolios, these issues will influence some regions or facilities, while others are not going to be as affected. Essentially, what we are recommending to our customers is to start taking a more sophisticated, tailored, data-driven approach to benchmarking going forward.

Andrew Blauvelt, Vice President, Sales, BuildingOS continued, “We’re going to need to establish baselines that are based on predictive modeling and leveraging machine learning. Predictive modeling uses real-time data to establish performance baselines essential to helping teams forecast consumption and manage savings against those reduction targets. While corporate sustainability requirements are still a top priority, energy managers need to understand the effects of fluid conditions including occupancy levels, operating hours, and new code requirements around ventilation and particulate levels.”


Smart Energy Decisions’ Virtual Renewable Energy Forum (Summer Edition) is set for June 7-10. The 7th edition of this industry-leading event will once again bring together renewable energy buyers with all levels of experience at large power users to explore solutions provided by the industry’s premier renewable energy suppliers.  Buyer Registration is limited; for more information, click here. Suppliers may click here for information on sponsorship opportunities.


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