Virginia Energy Sense interviewed Virginia Energy Efficiency Council Program Coordinator Jessica Greene to discuss how her organization is playing a role in encouraging environmental stewardship. Please provide a short summary of what the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is and the work it does: The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) is a Richmond-based nonprofit that strives to be the voice of the energy efficiency industry in the Commonwealth. As the only statewide organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Virginia, we work with our diverse group of 85+ members to provide a platform for stakeholder engagement to assess and support programs, innovation, and policies, which grow Virginia’s energy efficiency industry. VAEEC’s goal is to ensure energy efficiency is recognized as an integral part of Virginia’s economy and clean energy future. Our top initiatives and programs include commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, the Governor’s Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency (GEC), building codes, regulatory/utility programs, benchmarking, energy performance contracting, and supporting legislation that helps these programs. Through our programs, member network, and events we:
- Engage stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities to energy efficiency as a resource in Virginia
- Develop a strong, fact-based and balanced industry voice before local, state and national policymakers and regulators
- Inform our members of events, legislation and regulation at the local, state and national level that affects their businesses
- Provide networking, outreach, and business services for our state’s energy efficiency industry and the public at large
What is your role in the organization and how long has the organization been a part of Virginia Energy Sense? I joined the VAEEC as Program Coordinator in September 2016. The organization has been a part of Virginia Energy Sense since 2015. What is the Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award and how are the winners determined? The Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards are a chance for the VAEEC to showcase how energy efficiency champions across the Commonwealth are helping businesses, governments, homeowners, and schools save money on energy bills while reducing energy consumption, all while stimulating job growth and our economy. At our inaugural Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards last November, 18 winners (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) were honored by both the VAEEC and Governor McAuliffe. The awards highlighted projects, programs, or entities that are making strides to enhance energy efficiency in Virginia. Applications are categorized by the sector that they serve: academic, commercial, local government, low-income, residential, or state government. A Selection Committee, consisting of VAEEC members from different sectors, is responsible for scoring all applications within these categories. Since our goal is to showcase as many projects and programs as possible, and show how much work is going on in Virginia, the Selection Committee chooses a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner for each category. The committee uses predetermined score cards to grade each project and program on the same merits. All 2017 winners will be honored at the Awards Ceremony following the VAEEC’s Fall 2017 Meeting on November 2nd in Richmond. What are some ways in which your organization has encourage environmental stewardship? The VAEEC recognizes the value of energy efficiency, while also acknowledging that is has been largely invisible and underutilized. That is why the VAEEC is committed to working with policymakers to help them understand the benefits of energy efficiency, such as reduced energy bills, local economic development, higher quality of life due to reduced pollution and better ventilation, and downward pressure on utility rates. Virginia is slowly starting to see a change. A lot of the progress seen in recent years is due to the work of Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency, or GEC, which is the result of VAEEC’s 2013 report recommendation. In our latest report, Why Energy Efficiency is a Smart Investment for Virginia, the VAEEC lays out five policy recommendations that reflect and build on the work of the GEC. We will continue to work with our members and other energy efficiency stakeholders to get these recommendations implemented. Looking ahead, how do you see Virginia meeting its goal of becoming more energy efficient? According to a Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy estimate, Virginia would be 36% of the way towards our energy efficiency goal of 10% electricity savings by 2022 if all of these recommended programs and policies were put in place. In order for that to happen, we need to continue to educate policymakers, regulators, stakeholders, businesses, and local and state government agencies on the many benefits of energy efficiency to consumers, property owners, ratepayers, local and state governments, and industry. Additionally, we must continue to engage with those listed about how best to implement energy efficiency technologies and services.