BOSTON — Key energy issues, such as energy management, efficiency, automation, and more, took center stage as the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) presented its AEE East Energy Conference & Expo, March 20-21 in Boston.
AEE East brought together energy professionals from the commercial, industrial, institutional, and governmental sectors to discuss energy-saving strategies, products, services, technologies, and more. More than 60 presenters shared their knowledge across five tracks, focusing on Leading-edge Initiatives, Advanced Energy Solutions, Big Data & IoT, Energy Services, and Energy Management.
“Who remembers Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web?” asked Kent during the event’s opening ceremonies. “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web became Yahoo. What about Backrub? Backrub is now Google. AEE is also evolving. We’re refocusing, reenergizing, and rebranding our events. This is now the AEE East Energy Conference and Expo. AEE West will occur in California in June, and AEE World will occur in Washington, D.C., in September.”
Kent said the AEE board of directors met preceding the conference and established some core, short-term strategic objectives for the organization.
“We want to connect our members globally while meeting their needs locally,” he said. “We’re committed to enhancing and solidifying the value of AEE membership and addressing the urgent global and environmental needs with certified and qualified professionals around the world.”
In closing, Kent challenged attendees to make the most out of their time at the event.
“I challenge you to participate, network, and learn all you can so you can go forward and implement energy solutions to make a difference for a resilient, reliable, and clean energy future not only in the U.S. but around the world,” he said.
Most Efficient State
For the last eight years, Massachusetts has been recognized as the most energy efficient state in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), making Boston a perfect setting for AEE East.
Judith Judson, commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Energy Services, showcased the many reasons why the state has held the top spot during the conference’s opening session.
“Our mission is to create a clean, affordable, resilient future for the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” she said. “Our department is the policy arm for energy in Massachusetts, and we’re working every day to become more clean, affordable, and resilient when it comes to energy.”
Three years ago, Massachusetts implemented the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008, which created a framework for reducing heat-trapping emissions to levels scientists believe give Americans a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst effects of global warming. The act requires a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all sectors of the economy below the 1990 baseline emission level in 2020 and at least an 80 percent reduction in 2050.
“We must strive to present an affordable and clean energy future by ensuring a reliable, resilient, and safe energy infrastructure,” Judson said. “In order to do this, we’ve taken a portfolio approach to energy. We’ve focused on new renewable resources, such as hydro-electric power, onshore and offshore wind, solar, and more.”
In 2016, Massachusetts implemented the Comprehensive Energy Act. This bill authorized the Department of Energy Resources, in conjunction with electric distribution companies, to solicit 1,200 MW of clean energy and procure 1,600 MW of offshore wind.
Judson called the state’s progress toward these goals “exciting.”
“We’ve procured 1,200 MW of hydro-electric energy from Hydro-Québec that primarily runs through Maine,” she said. “The price of that was 5.9 cents localized cost in 2017 dollars. When you add the cost we pay for energy in the wholesale market and all pieces of energy capacity and services as well as the cost of running our renewable portfolio and clean energy standards, that’s a lower cost than what we would have otherwise predicted.”
Judson deemed offshore wind a great source of clean energy that delivers year-round.
“We’ve procured and have a contract for 800 MW of offshore wind, the largest contract in the nation,” she said. “Not only do we contract for 800 MW with Vineyard Wind, which is located south of Martha’s Vineyard, the state of Rhode Island also contracted for another project for 400 MW of wind. So, 1,200 MW came out of that for the region, and it’s launched additional solicitations with New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. We are excited to share that we’ll be entering our next solicitation, the second of that 1,600 MW, later this year, pushing us up to 3,200 MW.”
Perhaps the most surprising part of the wind contract was its price tag, said Judson.
“By agreeing to a fixed, 20-year contract, the energy was contracted at a price of 6.5 cents per kWh in 2017 dollars,” Judson said. “No one expected such low prices. This resulted in a bill reduction for consumers, and shows that you can have policies that can be clean and affordable for consumer.”
Boston Properties Inc. is a public equity firm that owns, manages, and develops real estate in the Greater Boston area. The company owns $20 billion in assets across more than 15 million square feet. Ben Myers, director, sustainability, Boston Properties, said the firm operates a “simple” sustainability strategy.
“We aim to promote our growth and operations in a sustainable and responsible manner; focus on the economical, social, and environmental aspects of our activities; and maximize performance transparency through the exposure of ESG [environmental, social, and governance issues].”
In addition to being simple, Boston Properties’ strategy has also been extremely successful. In its Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)-aligned “Sustainability Report,” the firm announced it had exceeded its 2020 sustainability targets three years early, reducing energy use intensity by 23 percent, water use intensity by 26 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent compared to a 2008 base year.
Reassessing its goals, Boston Properties announced newer more aggressive goals for the year 2025. The organization announced its intention to reduce energy use intensity by 32 percent, greenhouse gas emission intensity 45 percent, and water use intensity 30 percent by 2025.
“When we hit our 2020 targets three years early, we reassessed the performance improvement potential of our actively managed office portfolio and development pipeline asset-by-asset,” said Myers. “The adoption of these new targets is an indicator of our organizational strength, environmental leadership, and capacity to implement policies, programs, and projects that complement sustainable development and operations.”
AEE East also welcomed more than 50 exhibitors, including Armstrong Fluid Technology, Dunham, and Hurst Boiler, to its expo hall,
The event is the first of three rebranded conferences to be presented in 2019 by the nonprofit, professional society that boasts 18,000 members in more than 100 countries. Others include AEE West, June 5-6 in Santa Clara, California, and AEE Global, Sept. 25-27 in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.aeecenter.org.