On Tuesday June 19, the Innovation Exchange hosted an open house to mark our official launch and showcase our new space.
Guests ranged from our colleagues at utilities, state and local government, foundations, the university, and other non-profits.
A big thank you to everyone who attended and to those of you who have been involved in CEE’s incubation, research, and dissemination activities!
We tested out our new lighting display and used the lab to show updates from our current research projects.
Here are some highlights from our Director of Research Martha Hewett’s remarks from the program:
Of course, we were back to business first thing Wednesday morning, working on controls for our rooftop HVAC unit pilot project and preparing equipment to test air leakage in large commercial buildings.
If you missed the open house, you can take a virtual tour and explore our current research projects online. And be sure to check out upcoming webinars and events from the Innovation Exchange!
Introduction to Nancy Lange
Virtual Tour of the Innovation Exchange
Opening our Open Office
“Research is in our DNA as an organization. From our earliest days we realized that owners needed objective information on what works in energy efficiency. In the early 1980s we began to work with apartment building owners. At that time, everyone was offering a gizmo to landlords that ‘saved 20% with a one year payback.’ Owners were so jaded by these sales pitches that they were loath to do anything. We needed better information if we were to have any hope of motivating them to invest in efficiency. So our earliest research tested efficiency strategies for boiler and water heating systems in apartment buildings. Based on these real world field tests we were able to show owners what they could realistically expect to save, provide practical design, installation and operational guidance, and encourage implementation. And we weren’t afraid to tell owners what didn’t work, or wasn’t cost effective, either. This research found a wide audience in the energy efficiency community and influenced the design of efficiency programs in Minnesota and other states.
That early work embodies a philosophy and approach that has been central to our research to the present day, namely: to provide the information decision-makers really need by conducting rigorous, hands-on research in real buildings. Over the past 30 years we have continued to conduct field research in residential, multifamily, commercial and institutional buildings and with electric and gas technologies
Going forward, I see the opportunities in energy efficiency focusing less on component efficiency and more on system efficiency, on embedded intelligence, on the effective management and use of ever increasing volumes of historical and real-time system data, and on enhanced energy use monitoring and feedback. Whether it’s using well tuned occupancy sensors to turn off the lights when no one’s around, making sure the building enclosure is actually enclosed, making sure ductwork delivers air to the space without leakage or short circuits or providing timely feedback on energy use to building operators and homeowners, the most efficient strategy is to use energy when it’s doing something useful and not use it when it isn’t. And, trust me, that’s a lot harder than it sounds. It’s going to require a level of design, construction, commissioning and operation that considerably exceeds today’s status quo. Energy efficiency has come a long way in the past 30 years but from what I can see there is no end of new places to go.
CEE’s research has shaped our own efficiency programs and has provided input to energy and IAQ programs around the country. But we think that we need to make a greater effort to make our past and current work more accessible to others. Moreover, we think there is a need here in Minnesota for inter-organizational learning and exchange of ideas in a context that is off-line from specific programs, policies or legislation. And that’s where the Innovation Exchange comes in. We hope this idea interests you, because your participation is vital to its success. We look forward to seeing you here often."