The following update was written by NEEC’s Executive Director Kerry Meade.
Hello everyone! It has been a while since we shared a general organizational and industry update with you, and I am excited to be reaching out today, as I have some news to share and there are many industry updates to ponder as well.
Over the last few years, many of us have felt excited and hopeful about the role our industry is playing in the transition to a carbon-free economy. We applauded when Washington State passed the Clean Buildings Performance Standard and then expanded it in 2022. We celebrated the passage of 100% Clean Electricity in Washington and then again in Oregon. We cheered for the passage of the Climate Commitment Act, the Clean Fuel Standard and the Move Ahead Washington Act. We also supported the 2022 adjustments to the public Energy Conservation Projects definition, which was broadened to include greenhouse gas reductions, among other changes. We’ve also been tracking various federal funding announcements and the work that will happen once awarded. And who could forget the recent passage of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, certainly not any of us who have participated in countless related webinars. A whirlwind of new laws, new plans, new programs, new opportunities, and new terminology has bombarded us, leaving us all feeling like there is a lot going on, to say the least. Throughout this time of unprecedented industry momentum, our organization strategized with our Board of Directors to examine the work of our membership and our partners, and the meaning of all these new policies, programs, and words to chart a new course for NEEC in this emerging new world.
For over 30 years, the Pacific Northwest has been a place where energy efficiency plays a central, prioritized role in stabilizing our energy forecast and assuring we build and maintain the most affordable and efficient energy infrastructure possible. The pressing demands to decarbonize our economy, and therefore our energy system, have over time, changed the nature of our work as an organization and redefined what is needed to fulfill that continued ambition for an affordable and reliable energy system. As our regional vision shifts to the carbon-free economy that is essential to a world in which human life can continue to sustain itself and thrive on Earth, we recognize that the NEEC mission of yore needs a refresh.
After much contemplation, the Board, leadership, and staff have landed on a new Vision and Mission for the organization:
We envision a world with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and our mission is to eliminate carbon emissions from building energy use through market-based thought leadership, education, and advocacy.
This change in our mission is a small but impactful shift in NEEC’s definition of what was once known as the energy efficiency industry. The work you have done over the last 30 years has built a system and approach to buildings that will enable the work that is to come in the next 30 years and beyond. In the coming months, we will open our doors to a broader membership –one that is inclusive of energy efficiency, demand response, onsite renewables, battery storage, and other building level services, technologies, and interventions that support overall building decarbonization. This shift is because we have heard our stakeholders telling us that there is more that buildings can do to decarbonize energy use and that while energy efficiency remains an essential part of this effort, achieving our shared vision requires we look at energy efficiency as a part but not the whole of a building’s decarbonization plan. This shift in our thinking and our mission will provide NEEC staff the focus it needs to effectively advocate for change in historic systems, laws, and regulations that are currently hindering our industry’s ability to work with and through utilities and building owners and managers to decarbonize their building energy use and change the way they think about and use energy.
We will continue the quiet (but challenging!) work of drafting objectives and strategies to unleash the potential of our industry and usher in our shared vision of a world with net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And we certainly hope to hear from you as well and will look for opportunities for you to work with NEEC and one another to help us shape the voice of our industry as we advocate for the essential role that buildings will play in transitioning to a carbon-free economy.