• Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Management
  • Energy Storage
  • Energy Cloud

EE Global 2019: Efficiency in the Energy Cloud Era

Jessie Mehrhoff
Jul 03, 2019

Connected City 4

We live in a world where questions about the absence of cost-effective, easy opportunities can paint an uncertain picture about what the future of energy efficiency looks like. The EE Global conference demonstrates the differentiated, valuable paths to a more efficient world.

Energy efficiency experts from around the world gathered at the EE Global Forum in Washington, DC at the beginning of June to share best practices and industry insights revolving around building technologies, codes, and innovative program implementation.

At the event, Ed Barbour, managing director at Navigant, highlighted that the necessary technology to hit energy savings goals exists and is available in many major products. However, meeting global energy efficiency goals remains a challenge. Barbour’s sentiment was echoed among others at the conference, citing announcements like that by the International Energy Agency that energy efficiency was the largest break on emissions growth in 2018, but that it needs to do more. California may be taking the lead here, doubling its energy efficiency goals to help reduce its GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels before 2030.

Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency

Southern Company, Sparkfund, and Marketing Evolution described “Evolving Utility EE Programs in the Energy Cloud Era” and highlighted that future programs will need to move past advertising the cheapest resolutions and toward solutions that are visible, to allow customers to demonstrate leadership; integrated, to prevent customers’ vendor-fatigue; and turnkey rather than fragmented. I’m pleased to see Navigant's Energy Cloud terminology permeating the energy industry. I am also inspired by current and future approaches to energy efficiency:

  • As building codes become more stringent and cities like Washington, DC require all new construction to be LEED certified, inherently invisible energy efficiency measures will be displayed through public-facing plaques on building facades. 
  • XaaS models including Cooling as a Service, Software as a Service, and Efficiency as a Service will allow corporations and other large energy users to outsource energy expertise and technologies, reducing capital expenditure barriers to taking efficiency action onsite.
  • Intelligent technologies and data analytics provided through companies like Datakwip are also helping to make efficiency affordable by identifying new low or no-cost ways for companies to improve their energy savings.
  • By reducing the energy intensity of specific technologies, like cooling systems in our own homes, we can address half a degree of global warming potential, according to panelists sharing “Innovative Solutions for Cooling a Warming World.”
Behavior Change will Remain Critical

In my time with Navigant Research, I’ve been working to identify what exactly the new energy efficiency of the 21st century will look like. The ability to integrate a variety of evolving demand side management technologies together to optimize energy savings new modernized grids will be critical; and automation, building codes, sensors, and software will surely play a role in efforts like those to reduce emissions 40% through efficiency. However, the passion demonstrated by attendees of the EE Global Forum identified a critical feature to the growth of the industry: winning hearts and minds.

To paraphrase the words of Southern Company’s Chris Womack, the future success of energy efficiency will in part be driven by the ability to attach human emotion to the kilowatt-hour or therms reduced by partaking in energy savings measures. As we implement more creative energy efficiency programs worldwide, we must ensure that these programs do not leave consumers behind in sole favor of flashy automation. Continued customer education and engagement is necessary to remind us all that the cleanest energy is that which is not used in the first place.