World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC)

Earlier this month, under the high exposed ceiling of the Washington Convention Center’s Hall A, thousands of energy professionals from around the globe gathered for the 2014 World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC), the 37th event of its kind. It was presented by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and featured over 250 speakers. The WEEC conference is the largest gathering of its kind, representing the culmination of remarkable efforts towards a greener, cleaner future.

Ideas and products showcased that Wednesday and Thursday worked at both ends of the energy lifecycle: finding smarter ways of acquiring energy and then getting the most productivity with the least amount of waste. A number of exhibits highlighted ways of monitoring energy usage many building types through metering. Others promoted methods of reducing air leaks in building envelopes, improving interior conditions and occupant comfort. These examples save individuals money while also reducing buildings’ share of global energy consumption.

The conference promoted the exchange of ideas big and small. The Department of Energy’s Better Plants project is on the large-scale end: organizations that partner with the DOE on this pledge to reduce their energy intensity by 25% over the next ten years. A smaller booth demonstrated a new method of preventing flood damage on the scale of the single family unit, potentially saving homeowners millions of dollars. From energy recovery wheels that reuse exhaust air to environmentally responsible artificial grass that can be recycled into plastic injection moldings, this gathering brought out the best in the field.

Along with items such as a smart grid and renewable energy, the AEE counts energy codes among the major sustainability energy trends that have gained momentum in recent years. In this vein, there were several companies advertising how their products could help consumers ensure that buildings were meeting code during both design and operation.

It is clear from this gathering that we have the technological capacity to live smarter, less wasteful lives. What remains unclear is how much of what was exhibited will be implemented; a theoretical possibility of energy savings means little if people are still designing and building as they always have. We hope that as WEEC attendees return to their cities and communities, they bring with them not only information about new products and programs but ideas for how the resources shown at WEEC can be put into practice.