Mid-February can be dreary, but one bright spot on the horizon is always the Building Energy Conference in early March. It’s an annual renewal with old friends and, even better, a way to make new ones. Building Energy is so much more than information – seeing and hearing from so many others dedicated to a thriving yet lower impact future recharges my spiritual batteries as it packs my brain.
I’m excited to see the Net Zero Summit sharing our venue. On a panel called Educating the Industry with some other NESEA stalwarts, Nadav Malin, Kat Klingenberg, and Barbra Batshalom, I’ve been asked to report on my experience teaching Zero Net Energy Homes online for the NESEA Building Energy Masters Series. After five courses and over 200 participants I’m convinced self-paced, asynchronous online learning is the way to master and apply new skills and knowledge.
Speaking of zero net energy, highlights of the conference include the opening plenary on Rethinking the Grid. How will technology and policy come together to help us achieve vastly higher levels of renewable electricity? Net metering policy is changing, so what should our response be as architects, builders, engineers, regulators, building owners? There’s cool stuff on the near horizon – more affordable battery storage, and heat pumps with high temperature output. Can we envision an appliance that combines battery storage with a smart inverter/charger that knows when to store the energy and when to export it? That already exists. Yet much building energy use is thermal, but happens when the sun doesn’t shine. Think about combining that appliance with a high temperature heat pump and phase change heat storage to serve nighttime loads for heat and hot water. That doesn’t exist – yet.
BE 15 will deliver its usual “what’s new and important” message. There are some great sessions on how make less toxic, lower embodied energy material choices – I’m looking forward to learning from Greg Norris. My company South Mountain is teaming up with Byggmeister to report our experience analyzing the carbon footprint of our operations and projects. Robert Leaver and an all-star cast will help us think clearly, and make better decisions, about water in our buildings and communities, as part of NESEA’s larger focus on community resilience.
As always, BE 15 will have an abundance of techie sessions, the kind where I learn how much I really still need to learn about a topic. David White and Aubrey Gewehr will speak about managing humidity in low load homes. Chris Corson and Kohta Ueno will report on moisture loading monitoring in superinsulated walls, and Kohta will join me to chronicle our observations of minisplit heat pump performance. And I’ll do my best to embarrass myself with all the things I coulda shoulda done better on my own Deep Energy Retrofit – as has been noted, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Like many at BE 15, I have a LOT of experience! Hope to see you there, and learn from yours.