2020 was an unusual year for all, but through the challenges and adaptations, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC) and Smart Buildings Center (SBC) programs made significant progress on many goals and initiatives. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, NEEC quickly pivoted and moved all educational programs, including the Building Operator Certification (BOC) courses and Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP), to a virtual format. Our staff, like so many others throughout the nation, began working from home, many sharing a hastily created home workspace with their own children, whose schools or childcare arrangements were closed to support safety for all of us. In early June, staff organized the SBC’s first Virtual Executive Forum, which focused on how the coronavirus pandemic and related changes to and concerns about building occupation strengthened the case for smarter buildings. Our Tool Lending Library, which closed for a short period of time, reopened as quickly as possible to essential workers and needs, and we published content highlighting how tools in our space could help building facility staff and operators better understand the conditions inside their own facilities and support operators in complying with best practice guidance coming from entities such as ASHRAE. Like so many of you, we never anticipated when we left our offices in mid-March 2020 that we wouldn’t return in any full-time capacity until a still yet to be determined date in the future, but as new information emerged and guidance was pushed out from the Governor’s Office, we “rolled with the punches” and continued to adjust our programming, bring virtual rather than in person content, and connect with all of you as best we could from our separate spaces.
Looking ahead into 2021, NEEC and SBC plan to host the Smart Buildings Exchange Conference & Tradeshow, although plans for the event format and structure are still being finalized. The ‘Why Smart Buildings?’ Executive Forums will continue and will explore relevant topics related to the role smart buildings technologies will play in the post-pandemic commercial buildings sector. The NEEC staff will support the SBC in the development of new educational content, expansion of the Tool Lending Library, development of technical content and webinars and the launching of a BOC Fundamentals of Energy Efficient Building Operations course.
During 2020, the NEEC Board of Directors welcomed four new members (Mike Christianson, Justin Fallstrom, Pete Segall, Poppy Storm) and the Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP) Board of Directors welcomed two new members (Lucy Gedney and Marcus Thomas).
2021 is going to be an exciting year and we are eager to share our new content with you, so stay tuned via all of our social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn), newsletters and blogs, and please enjoy the year in review below.
NEEC represents the changemakers who are transforming efficiency for the future. We are always eager to hear your thoughts about what the future holds for our industry, so please reach out at any time. Please take a moment to renew your membership for 2021 here: https://www.neec.net/2021-membership-payment/ or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you are not yet a member, join us!
New NEEC Members
NEEC welcomed the following new members during 2020 and looks forward to continuing our work together to support and advance the energy efficiency industry of the future:
New SBCEP Partners
SBCEP is excited to welcome O’Brien360 as a new partner beginning in 2021. O’Brien360 works alongside clients to ensure that new and existing buildings reach the highest possible level of sustainability, providing comprehensive services including consulting, certification, building performance and commissioning. From project conception to occupancy, they bring sustainable building expertise, thoughtful analysis, and technical skills to every project, delivering performance and value for clients in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
‘Why Smart Buildings?’ Executive Forum, June 2020
In June 2020, SBC hosted Navigating the New World, How the COVID-19 Crisis Has Strengthened the Case for Smart Buildings Practices and Technologies as part of the ‘Why Smart Buildings?’ Executive Forum series. Panelists discussed how the pandemic has strengthened the case for smart buildings technologies and practices to help mitigate unforeseen crises, better manage building operations, and meet the needs of tenants, occupants and other stakeholders in the built environment. The recording is available on the SBC YouTube channel.
Smart Buildings Week, September 2020
In place of the planned in-person Smart Buildings Exchange 2020 event, SBC hosted a virtual Smart Buildings Week September 14-18, 2020. Each day during the lunch hour, a virtual session crafted from key topics and speaker commitments for the planned in-person event featured a compelling and interactive panel discussion covering smart buildings topics including Using Data and Analytics to Improve Performance, Grid Enabled Efficient Buildings, Achieving Persistent Operational Performance, and Creating Intelligent Spaces. The session recordings are available on the Smart Buildings Center YouTube channel. Thank you to the speakers and event sponsors who made the series possible!
New Industry Resource: Remote Learning Calendar & Library
With support from Puget Sound Energy, SBC launched a Remote Learning Calendar and Library to provide access to a clearinghouse for remote education and training opportunities. The calendar and resources are curated for commercial energy managers, trade allies, facility managers, and those with a general interest in energy efficiency and smart buildings technologies and provide details and links to upcoming live and previously recorded remote learning events covering a wide range of topics. Industry stakeholders are encouraged to submit events and recordings using the links below.
Building Operator Certification (BOC) Program Update
The BOC program responded quickly to the need to pivot to online training in the face of COVID-19 and delivered trainings with little interruption to schedules. All 2020 NEEC BOC courses were delivered virtually, offering students the opportunity to attend live classes remotely with engagement with instructors and peers in an online platform. More about the BOC’s response can be found here. Via 40 BOC courses, BOC trained 661 professionals across 22 states.
Spring 2021 courses and the 2021 technical webinar series are open for registration at www.theboc.info.
Washington State Controls Apprenticeship
The Washington State Controls Specialist Apprenticeship Committee launched two Controls Specialist Apprenticeship programs aimed at developing professional expertise in the application, programming and management of building controls and automation systems. The high-demand, high-tech Controls Technology industry needs a “talent river” that benefits both employers and organized trades that build, operate, maintain and/or optimize the built environment. The youth and adult apprenticeship programs provide career pathways into facility operations, engineering and controls contracting occupations.
Tool Lending Library News
After a brief closure due to COVID-19 precautions, SBC shared Tool Lending Library (TLL) reopening guidelines and resumed filling tool loan requests using COVID-19 safety protocols. An April 2020 SBC blog post summarized best practices to reduce the spread of the virus in buildings, focusing on airborne transmission, and highlighted tools in the TLL that can support efforts to effectively prepare and maintain buildings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NEEC Staff News
During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are grateful that NEEC staff members stayed safe and healthy. NEEC staff transitioned to working from home adhering to WA State pandemic guidelines.
NEEC also welcomed 2 new babies
- Brittany Quigley welcomed her daughter Isla Virginia Quigley on 12/20/2019
- Harneet Kaur welcomed her daughter Arzoe Kaur Grover on 07/04/2020