Last week Efficiency Vermont hosted the 20th Better Buildings by Design conference (BBD).
Each year Efficiency Vermont offers access to leading experts in the energy efficiency and building performance fields. The conference showcases the latest residential and commercial building products and services. We offer technical workshops to expand qualifications and expertise. All while creating an environment where participants can network with peers.
The Better Buildings by Design conference is important to Efficiency Vermont because our efforts to advance energy efficiency in Vermont rely on our partnership with qualified building professionals. They are a vital component in nearly every energy efficiency project. Energy savings become a reality thanks to the expertise of designers, installers, and builders.
Skilled efficiency professionals are critical for energy consumers
A skilled, technical workforce is critical to Vermont’s economy as a whole –and it is critical to delivering energy efficiency to Vermont customers.
According to the Vermont 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report, nearly half of the 12,200 full-time clean energy jobs in Vermont come from the energy efficiency sector. That’s 5,900 full-time jobs associated with energy efficiency services. Most of the 1000 plus attendees and exhibitors of Better Buildings by Design are part of that workforce.
Orleans County Vermont models successful partnership
The partnership Efficiency Vermont has formed with contractors in Vermont, through events like BBD, and especially through our Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN), featured prominently in a recent project with Orleans County.
Orleans County Treasurer Mary Ann Fletcher, who was interested in upgrading to LED lights at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department reached out to local a contractor. Luckily, that contractor is an Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) member. Gates Electric, connected her with Efficiency Vermont staff to explore incentive options on LED lighting.
This is how many energy efficiency projects begin, and really showcases the important partnership Efficiency Vermont has with contractors, designers, architects and other building industry professionals. Together, we’re able to bring more value to customers and help them achieve their energy-saving goals.
Mary Ann was able to connect with Mark Kelley, an Account Manager at Efficiency Vermont. Mark took the time to better understand the County’s overall energy use. It became clear they had the potential to realize substantial energy savings if they scaled their effort up to include the County Courthouse in addition to the Sheriff’s Department. The project was soon looking beyond lighting to heating, air sealing, and insulation work.
Mark brought Nicole Duquette from Efficiency Vermont’s engineering team into the project. Nicole was able to hone in on the specific upgrades under consideration, and calculate the estimated energy savings – and cost savings – the upgrades would generate for the County. These estimates are important for customers so they can understand what the return on their energy efficiency investment will be.
To complete the chain of demand, Efficiency Vermont also works closely with manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to create incentives that bring down the cost of efficient products and helps to assure that such projects are available and affordable to Vermont customers.
All of this work paved the way for Orleans County to go from the drawing table to reality. Efficiency Vermont remained involved, but it was local contractors who really brought the project to life. Three of the contractors who worked on the project are members of the Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN):
- EEN member Fred’s Energy of Vermont, based in Derby
- EEN member Gates Electric, based in Newport
- EEN member Nadeau’s Plumbing & Heating, based in Newport
- The Newport Office of the Northeast Employment Training Organization (NETO)
- New England Foam & Coating, based in St. Johnsbury.
EEN supports training and certification efforts to develop a skilled workforce in Vermont and connects customers with those services. It played an important role in allowing this project to be completed by local companies; helping to reduce the cost of operating the two County buildings while also supporting the local economy.
The estimated results of the projects:
Orleans County Courthouse
- Energy use reduced by 57%
- $3,800 estimated annual energy cost savings
- $61,000 energy cost savings over lifetime of measures
Orleans County Sheriff’s Department
- Energy use reduced by 59%
- $4,600 estimated annual energy cost savings
- $80,000 energy cost savings over lifetime of measures
The partnership between Efficiency Vermont and building professionals has led to thousands of successful projects, from small-scale residential weatherization projects all the way to energy retrofits at some of the state’s largest commercial energy customers, like manufacturing plants, wastewater treatment facilities, hospitals, and many others. In 2017 alone, Efficiency Vermont’s partnerships with 918 contractor companies, 148 building design firms, 801 equipment suppliers, and 313 retailers resulted in:
- 15,500 Businesses served for a combined lifetime savings of $106 million
- 106,300 homes served for a combined lifetime savings of $80 million
- $6.7 million in combined lifetime savings for low-income Vermonters
- 839,000 tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions – equal to what a forest the size of Rhode Island (1 million acres) can sequester in a year.
It’s a powerful partnership, and thanks to events like Better Buildings by Design, it’s getting stronger all the time.