The 2016 Energy Efficiency (EE) Global Forum opened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday with a major announcement about corporate commitment to a greener future.

Kelly Speakes-Backman, the senior vice president for policy and research at the Alliance to Save Energy, addresses the EE Global Forum.

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, unveiled the EP 100 global campaign, which encourages influential businesses around the world to double their energy productivity, a measure of economic output per energy use.

A big part of that will involve the construction of energy-efficient buildings with high-performance glazing.

“Companies who want to make big energy productivity commitments with regard to buildings are working on three things,” said Kenber. “One is lighting, one is motors, and a big one is definitely insulation, which includes high-performance windows and glass. Opportunities in energy savings represent a return on investment. The key is to demonstrate that isn’t not about losing money, it’s about making money.”

Three companies have already joined the EP 100 campaign – Covestro AG, Johnson Controls and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., an Indian company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors. Covestro and Johnson Controls announced their participation at Wednesday’s EE Global Forum.

The EP 100 campaign, part of the We Mean Business Coalition, is developed and administered by The Climate Group in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity and the United Nations Sustainability for All initiative.

Other announcements at the EE Global Forum also focused on energy efficiency in buildings.

The Alliance to Save Energy, which sponsors the EE Global event, unveiled its Systems Efficiency Initiative (SEI) Year 1 report, Greater than the Sum of its Parts: The Case for a Systems Approach to Energy Efficiency. The study looks at the unrealized energy savings that can be realized through a systems-efficiency approach to building design, construction, operation and maintenance.

“Focusing on building systems, as opposed to the components of a system, will be necessary to achieve energy efficiency,” said SEI co-chair Kelly Speakes-Backman, the senior vice president for policy and research at the Alliance to Save Energy.

A key aspect is optimization of a building’s lighting system by incorporating daylighting (windows and skylights) and controls. The SEI report cited a study that found using automated electrochromic windows with light-dimming controls in a retrofitted commercial building in Washington, D.C., led to weekday lighting energy savings of 91 percent compared to the previous system.

The joint control of HVAC and window systems was also cited in the study. For example, research on the measured energy performance of a typical floor in the New York Times headquarters building, which features an all-glass façade, fixed exterior shading, interior automated shading, dimmable lights and underfloor air distribution, was compared to the calculated energy of a building that complies with ASHRAE 90.1. The study showed 26 percent annual savings on electrical energy, 22 percent peak electrical savings, 51 percent heating energy savings and 56 percent lighting savings in the newspaper’s facility.

Another study compared base case smart control of windows and HVAC systems with “predictive” controls that can forecast probable weather conditions and occupancy levels in four U.S. climates. It found a wide range of savings, from zero (and even some losses) to about 7 percent savings in lighting and cooling energy.

ASHRAE treasurer Sheila Hayter, the strategy and implementation group manager within the Integrated Applications Center (IAC) at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), discussed some recent updates to energy codes.

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S. 2012, which Hayter says highlights the importance of making buildings in all sectors more energy-efficient.

Hayter said ASHRAE 90.1 now seeks a whole-building energy savings of 35-40 percent relative to the 2004 standard. Other changes include new climate zones and data. Hayter also said the Green Building Standard is now included in the International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Finally, she said ASHRAE 100 has been revised to provide greater guidance to retrofit projects.

Ani Dasgupta, global director at the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, had a brief presentation on a new report that shows building efficiency offers a triple-win of economic, social and environmental benefits for cites.

“Cities are an incredible opportunity,” Dasgupta said. “More than 2.5 billion people will move there over the next decades, and 60 percent of the buildings for them have not yet been built. Energy efficiency in cities produces the biggest bang for the buck. The decisions city leaders make will have dramatic spillover, whether it’s building codes or the performance of a portfolio of buildings.”

Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, presented the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity’s Energy Productivity Playbook, a series of suggestions for driving energy productivity improvements globally through National Energy Productivity Policy Roadmaps. The goal of the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity is to double global energy productivity.

Thomas Dreessen, chair of the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO), announced the release of the updated 2016 International Performance Measurement & Verification (IPMVP) publication, an international best-practices reference guide that enables building owners, energy service companies and financiers to quantify the energy savings of energy-efficiency projects through proper measurement and verification.

“Our new vision is to create a world that has confidence in energy efficiency as a reliable and sustainable resource,” Dreessen said. “People need confidence that the savings are going to be achieved.”

Dreessen said complexity is a big barrier to quantifying energy efficiency.

“We’re measuring the absence of energy use, not energy production,” he said. “It’s a challenge.”

Later, a luncheon was held for the 2016 EE Visionary Awards, which went to three campuses around the world that have achieved significant energy-efficiency goals.

The new cancer treatment center in the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, is the first hospital in Asia to achieve LEED-HC Platinum certification. The center is 42 percent more energy efficient than standard buildings and was constructed in partnership with Siemens Taiwan.

UN City, a LEED-certified campus housing all UN agencies in Copenhagen, Denmark, was awarded the European Commission’s Green Building Award for New Buildings after cutting its predicted energy consumption by 55 percent.

Stanford University recently completed a new Central Energy Facility in 2015. The project will effectively transform the university energy supply from 100 percent fossil-fuel based combined heat and power system to a grid-sourced electricity system with more efficient electric heat recovery.

The EE Global Forum continues on Thursday. More than 470 attendees from around the world are taking part.

“Attending this event is like getting a master’s degree in energy efficiency in a day and a half,” said Callahan. “We are really picking up the pace of policy implementation and investment.”

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