Notes from 2019 Montgomery County Energy Summit

Focusing on the Here and Now

Montgomery County Energy SummitThis year’s Montgomery County Energy Summit, hosted jointly by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and USGBC National Capital Region (USGBC-NCR)’s Montgomery County Committee, enjoyed record attendance with more than 315 members of the green building community. Hosted at the Silver Spring Veteran’s Civic Center on Wednesday, April 3, the day kicked off with powerful keynote addresses from Montgomery County DEP Director Adam Ortiz, Montgomery County Council Member Tom Hucker, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and ARC Skoru Vice President Chris Pyke. Keynote speakers outlined Montgomery County’s push towards energy efficiency with aggressive goals on reducing waste, decreasing energy dependency on fossil fuels and a county-wide focus on building sustainable solar projects.

This year’s event was themed “Focus on the Here & Now” and presented a balanced picture of the current state of energy efficiency in Montgomery County, plus emerging trends. Here are highlights from the education sessions:

Existing Building Retro-Commissioning | Fundamentals and Case Studies:

Todd Steffens of Loring Consulting Engineers, Philip Wright, with Bringjac Engineering, and Paul Tseng, from Advanced Building Performance (ABP) presented a concise overview of the retro commissioning process during their presentation, which offered important takeaways about the process. The retro commissioning process allows discovery of issues from initial design and installations. Retro commissioning is also a great way to solve building system performance concerns and find opportunities to save energy and money. Because retro commissioning is only an analysis of existing systems practices, ownership decides whether to request renovations or improvements. After the completion of any work performed during the retro commissioning process, the commissioning agent produces a report with the findings, actions taken, and analyses. The session concluded with three case studies; one from downtown Washington, DC and two from Virginia. The case studies wrapped up the presentation by offering key information on the significant energy and cost saving benefits of retro commissioning as well as the equipment life extending capabilities. For more information on retro commissioning, view our service offering or contact our Operations and Energy Services studio.

Deciphering the Data | Combating ENERGY STAR Score Point Drops:

Senior Principal Jeffrey Salay
Senior Principal Jeffrey Salay presenting on the ENERGY STAR score changes and how to make the most of your building data.

Presented by GHT’s own Senior Principal Jeffrey Salay in collaboration with SOL VISTA and the EPA, this session introduced strategies to overcome ENERGY STAR score drops which have occurred because of the most recent CBECS survey data. EPA ENERGY STAR Program Manager Brendan Hall kicked off the session with a brief recap of the changes to the program, notifying participants that the EPA Portfolio Manager is expected to reopen for 2018/2019 submissions in late Spring. Jeffrey then introduced the audience to a case study where a typical

Montgomery County commercial office building’s score dropped and discussed strategies for restructuring the building’s data in the portal, plus analyzing its energy use to gain additional points back. Zach Moore, SVP of SOL VISTA, ended the day’s session reviewing two case studies from office and hotel buildings in the County that were able to overcome point drops and gain recertification. For a full copy of the presentation, check out the GHT Resource Library.

It’s How You Get There | One Team’s Journey to Achieving NZE: Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Center:

One of the afternoon sessions included Greg Mella, Chris Gorri, and Oliver Baumann delivering an engaging presentation on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)’s Brock Environmental Center and how it achieved NetZero using innovative design techniques. The project uses color-coded LEDs (green and red) to let staff know when the building is in natural ventilation mode and windows can be opened. To inform this natural ventilation, outdoor monitoring stations provide information on temperature, humidity, and pollution. Initially predicted to use the natural ventilation strategy about 10% of the year, the building currently operates with a 50% usage instead. A unique and helpful part of the design process included highly involving the end-users each step of the way.

The occupants remain very dedicated to the building’s environmentally friendly design. People that like similar climates are seated near each other and on sunny days, staff shut lights off completely so lighting energy performance in the space is more efficient than predicted by the energy model. Brock Environmental Center is also the first commercial building in the continental US permitted to capture and treat rainfall for use as drinking water. Another interesting detail the presenters were proud to mention was that excess rainwater collected is sent to a brewery for an annual beer collaboration benefiting the CBF.

Attendees finished the day off with an evening reception at United Therapeutics’ Unisphere, the company’s newest net-zero energy building, where they discussed the project’s unique features and Mark Bryan of USGBC-NCR reflected on the success of the event.Unisphere Lobby








As a Sustainable Programs Manager in GHT’s Sustainable Programs studio, Meghan McAvoy, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, TRUE Advisor, supports clients throughout the design and construction process who seek LEED, WELL, Net Zero and other sustainable program certifications.