January 2016 Monthly Meeting Notes

Another productive meeting of the EEB Houston group was held at Gensler on Friday, January 15th. Thank you to everyone that attended. We had 20 people in attendance both on the phone and on-site.

Report from COP 21

Rives Taylor with Gensler provided a great overview of his experience at COP 21 in Paris. Rives brought up several examples of the work that is driving activity in the building sector and that continues to grow in momentum thanks to the success of the climate talks. He mentioned there was considerable focus on new buildings and new technology and less on how to improve the existing building stock. That being said there was also considerable discussion on how do we take action now with what we have now. To move beyond the desire to wait for the next big thing before taking action, but rather deploy our existing tools. There was also significant focus on the materiality of building, i.e. the carbon and other resources that go into the building of new structures. The materiality of these structures is greater than the GHG we see in operations. Rives mentioned the Paris Action Plan and suggested this may be incorporated by EEB Houston as we move forward with our initiatives.

Some interesting links to check out from COP 21:

Finance Committee: Jeff Craig
On the finance side, Jeff and Jose discussed the ongoing support being provided by EEB Houston on the creation and administration of the PACE financing district in Houston. The EEB Houston is helping to support the City with a PACE 101 workshop on February 10th at the Houston Permitting Center. There is also a PACE contractor workshop being supported by EEB Houston in The Woodlands on February 25th. This will be led by the Texas PACE Authority. Additional PACE 101 workshops and PACE contractor workshops are being scheduled. Specific to these workshops a discussion was held on their scope and ability to engage the public and truly explain PACE to all interested parties. To further develop the PACE capacity within the community, EEB Houston folks will be speaking at association meetings and luncheons about PACE. Jeff is reaching out to Champions School of Real Estate to determine opportunities for them to help create a PACE educational session that can be taught to the real estate community and interested professionals in general. This conversation is on-going.

Jeff continues to reach out to the local financial community to educate them on PACE, as well as on the Investor Confidence Project (ICP). Further, there is still an effort underway to get ICP in Houston to do an Interconnect meeting. These Interconnect meetings bring together project developers, the financial communities and owners to help facilitate energy efficiency investment around the country. Specific to the ICP, the firm Architects for Life are going through the ICP training. They are looking to be the first credentialed firm in Houston.

Building Operator Committee: David Murrah
The Building Operator group continues to work on the Career Glide Path. There was some discussion further as to the role of this tool and audience. At this time, it is largely developed for the building operator and manager. A spreadsheet has been developed with many of the trainings and a variety of buckets in which these trainings can be placed. This first version has been submitted to the Sustainability Hackathon that is being held in February by the City of Houston. It is anticipated that this Hackathon may further develop the tool and generate additional ideas.

Communication Committee: Claude Griffin
There was some discussion as to how EEB Houston can use this glide path tool, as well as create additional tools that can be used to help guide decision making for other sectors of the energy efficiency ecosystem. An in-depth conversation was held on the role of EEB Houston into the future and how it must work toward bringing together existing information and curating it in a way that will add value in the community. It was largely the consensus of the meeting attendees that EEB does not need to be creating new material at this time, rather it should position itself more as a provider of energy efficiency/clean energy information specific to those in the Houston region. This led into the discussion on case studies.

Rives Taylor has offered to lead efforts for building a case study library/database for EEB Houston that will be provided on the site. Once again, the focus is on identifying and providing existing material in a useful fashion with the possible opportunity in the future of creating original material as the case study development evolves.

Policy Committee: Nina Latimer
Marina discussed the CEP and mentioned that the City has continued to solicit feedback on the City Energy Project ordinances. These ordinances are focusing on policies to promote the investment in energy efficiency across the city. The policies are benchmarking and transparency, building energy audits and building operator training certification. Marina stated that the outreach will continue through the end of first quarter 2016 with an anticipated introduction of the policy to City Council in second quarter of 2016.

Prior to the holiday Nina and Gavin met with TEPA to discuss their role in assisting with the energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). They offered to provide assistance with engaging utilities and the PUCT.

Other items:
There was some discussion on the development of a Governance Committee. This committee would have the role of establishing parameters related to succession of chairs and EEB leadership, fund raising for programs and strategy and initiative development and guidance.