Join Us for the 2016 Building Energy Summit

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

By Scott Pomeroy

If history is any indicator, the 2016 Building Energy Summit, held at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) on March 16, is the place to be if you want to learn where the real estate industry will be by the end of the decade.

Now in its fifth year, the Building Energy Summit has become a national and international showcase event focused on the processes and tools necessary to integrate new technologies into building operations with an emphasis on innovative, clean technology solutions. At this event, senior real estate executives join technology and energy experts to present comprehensive smart building solutions that use real-time cloud-based monitoring and controls to find efficiencies in buildings. When these changes are combined with big data analytics, the ability exists to create new systems to scale efficiency benefits across portfolios and cities.

While the Building Energy Summit has become a national event, 2016 represents a major local milestone tied to the District of Columbia's quest to become the most energy efficient city in the United States. This year, D.C. has reached the halfway point in its commitment to the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, which has a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. D.C. was one of only seven inaugural cities to to make the Better Buildings Challenge commitment and accept the challenge at the White House in December 2011.

The city's commitment to the challenge is what led to the creation of the Building Energy Summit by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and additional partners.

In late 2011, the Sustainable DC Plan to make the city the most sustainable city in the U.S. over 20 years, was in development, the contracts for the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) and DC Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs had just been awarded and requirements for mandatory energy benchmarking and LEED certification were about to go into effect in 2012. The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) had launched the DowntownDC ecoDistrict on Earth Day and was exploring an Energy Ally program with the DC SEU, DC PACE, the Institute for Market Transformation, the Carbon War Room, Viridity Energy and had begun a conversation with CoR Advisors about establishing an annual energy efficiency training series for downtown properties.

When the opportunity arose for the District to become a Better Buildings Challenge participant, the BID stepped forward and a verbal commitment by CoR Advisors founder Darlene Pope led to the inclusion of the following section in the commitment signed by then-Mayor Vincent Gray:

Timing of Commitment:

December 2011- District and the Downtown BID announce their commitments to the Better Buildings Challenge

January-April 2012-Bi-weekly meetings (i.e. 6 meetings over 3 months) to identify final scope and commitments from private stakeholders.

Plus, one energy summit hosted by the Downtown BID for private owners. 

Thus, the Building Energy Summit was born.

The goals for the first year were simple: demonstrate the value of energy efficiency and smart systems for downtown property owners and managers and prove that market interest would provide enough sponsorship to cover expenses and complete this in three months.

The first summit in 2012 attracted a sell-out crowd of more than 330 attendees, with a program featuring nationally-renowned speakers and an opening general session with Kevin Kampschroer, the Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Jigar Shah, CEO of Carbon War Room, Elizabeth Heider, then-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Audrey Zibelman, Founder and CEO of Viridity Energy.

Shah’s closing remarks that year made an impact on many and sealed the summit's successful future:

"If we aren't serious about this, we should not be here talking about it. If we don't care about energy efficiency, we should just move on… do a lot of solar panels on schools, set up some photo opps for Mayor Gray, and call it a day. In the end, the people in this room are the ones who can make a difference. You need to get off your a** and do something," --Jigar Shah

That success has carried through in the following years.

In 2013, keynote Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC President, CEO & Founding Chairman, unveiled the new Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) platform.

In 2014, then-GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini provided an informative morning keynote and Shah returned as a member of the Green Tech Media's Energy Gang. Shah and co-hosts Steven Lacey and Katherine Hamilton held their weekly podcast live from the summit. They featured international design experts John Picard of Picard & Associates, Roger Frechette III of Interface Engineering and Pope of CoR Advisors who each offered their ideas about what to expect in the future regarding intelligent, high-performance buildings and smart cities. 

Last year, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin surprised the crowd when he announced that D.C. had dethroned Los Angeles as the No. 1 Energy Star-labeled region for the first time ever in the history of the program.

The day closed with some of the world’s leading visionaries from the real estate, technology,and investor communities: Nils Kok, CEO of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB); John Baekelmans, CTO of Cisco; Emma Stewart, Head of Sustainability Solutions for AutoDesk; and Tommy Russo, CTO of Akridge. These were among the individuals who shared the stage for an open, unscripted and candid forum on some of the industry’s hottest topics, such as the internet of things, net zero energy buildings, smart cities, the value of sustainability to investors and shareholders and the future of green buildings.

What will the 2016 Building Energy Summit have in store for everyone this year?

One big change behind the scenes is new management. CoR Advisors was acquired by Jones Lang LaSalle in 2015 and now Darlene Pope is their Senior Vice President, Energy and Sustainability Services.

Don't expect major changes, but there might be a few more big surprises.

You won't want to miss them, but the only way to guarantee you see it all is to be there, so make sure you register today.

If you are a DowntownDC BID stakeholder please contact Scott Pomeroy at or at 202-661-7580 to receive the BID code for registration.