Last month, staff from DOE’s Better Plants program convened with partners in Atlanta, Georgia, for the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC), the largest energy conference and technology expo in the United States.

WEEC brings together top experts from diverse fields to expand knowledge on energy efficiency, resiliency, and facility optimization. The annual conference is also a prime opportunity for Better Plants partners to network, share proven energy solutions, and take stock of the past year and plan for the future. For example, partners spoke on four Better Plants-organized panels. These sessions covered timely topics like addressing energy management workforce needs, the benefits of ISO 50001, innovation in industrial energy efficiency, and how to boost resiliency and energy security. Session participants came away with actionable strategies and a greater appreciation for what’s possible.

During a partner breakfast, program staff and management recognized partner achievements and solicited feedback for how to build on the success of the program. The breakfast began with welcome remarks from Bill Kent, the Managing Director of the Association of Energy Engineers. Then, Mark Johnson, the AMO Director, underscored manufacturing’s longstanding importance as a major driver of innovation and jobs in the American economy. Representatives from program partners Comau LLC, Eaton Corporation and Encina Wastewater Authority (a Better Plants Challenge partner) received trophies for exceeding their energy performance reduction goals. Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, a Challenge partner, also shared with the audience the strategies and results from their 1.6 MW CHP system that won a Better Project award earlier in the year. Representatives from Charter Steel and Comau LLC then received certificates for completing the 50001 Ready process at their facilities and spoke about its benefits.

Better Plants program manager Eli Levine closed the breakfast by reviewing program developments since the previous WEEC, including new In-Plant Training topics on water/wastewater treatment, industrial refrigeration, and 50001 Ready, the debut of the Field Validation and Diagnostic Equipment Program, and the inaugural Technology Day at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He also discussed strategies to further support partners in 2018 and beyond with three focus areas: 1) improving technology development and transfer; 2) providing additional useful tools and resources; and 3) enhancing partner recognition and networking opportunities.

Throughout the conference, Better Plants maintained an expo booth that included a demonstration of the new 50001 Ready Navigator software tool, innovative additive manufacturing examples, a compressed air system demo, and a wealth of information on complementary AMO and National Lab resources. The expo floor was also the site of a workshop entitled 50001 Ready: Recognizing ISO Conformance led by AMO’s Jay Wrobel.

WEEC capped off a great year for Better Plants and its partners as showcased in the 2017 Progress Update that was released at the conference. A few highlights of the past year include:

  • Better Plants welcomed twelve program partners and five Challenge partners, a strong signal of industry buy-in that brings the total number of partners committing to improving energy performance to 191.
  • Celanese Corporation, a Challenge partner and Fortune 500 chemicals and advanced materials manufacturer from Irving, Texas, met its second goal after meeting its first goal in 2014; they are the 15th partner to set a new ambitious pledge after meeting their initial goal.
  • Honda North America joined the Supply Chain Initiative, sponsoring a cohort of eight suppliers that are now taking advantage of program resources and support to improve their energy efficiency.
  • Better Plants introduced new Better Practice and Better Project awards to honor 11 partners’ exceptional energy efficiency solutions.

Partners have helped further strengthen American manufacturing competitiveness by reporting estimated cumulative energy cost savings of $4.2 billion to date over the last seven years.

Presentation slides from the Better Plants sessions at WEEC are available upon request; please email if you would like a copy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings, Better Plants Program and Challenge (Better Plants) is partnering with leading manufacturers and water/wastewater treatment agencies to improve energy efficiency and competitiveness in the industrial sector. Through Better Plants, partners – representing roughly 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint – voluntarily set a specific energy intensity reduction goal across all their U.S. facilities.