Proven, Better, Together – NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston March 8-10
Green Energy Times was fortunate to briefly interview Stephan Wollenburg, one of the vice-chairs planning the Northeast Energy Association’s BuildingEnergy Boston conference and trade show.
GET: What is this event, why is it happening, who is it for?
Stephan Wollenburg: BuildingEnergy Boston 2016 is the latest event in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)’s 40-year legacy of high-performance building and clean energy conferences and trade shows. It will run from March 8-10 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA, and any sustainability professional in the region should consider going in order to learn or exhibit their products and services.
The people who show up vary in some great ways. The NESEA community itself goes back 40 years, and for a number of attendees, the conference is a chance for community with old friends who have pioneered this sustainability stuff since the 1970s. For years, the conference was mainly about residential building and solar generation, but more and more each year, the sessions feature content on commercial buildings, energy distribution, the water grid, community-scale solutions, and institutional sustainability for higher education and municipalities.
GET: What makes this conference different?
SW: When I attend, I’m struck by two things. First, the depth of the content is refreshing. Speakers, who always represent the best in the business, have a willingness to be wrong, so that they might improve. It isn’t a place where you go to hear an infomercial about a new product, it’s where you go to find out what really works. The other aspect that strikes me is that the event is very diverse. It’s easy to get stuck in our specialized fields, but at BuildingEnergy the builders, designers, developers, engineers, municipal planners, and so many more get to meet and cross-pollenate each other’s ideas in exciting ways. Specifically, I will be sure not to miss the session on the innovations that Stamford Conn. has pioneered through microgrids and local development. You’ll always find both technical expertise and grand inspiration.
Additionally, it’s FUN! There is an awards gala and dancing planned for NESEA night, an annual treat at the conference. Most of all, it’s the place to go if you want to build new networks, and connect with serious practitioners who share your passion for performance and professionalism.
One last detail that sets the event apart: it’s organized by volunteers. I myself am a NESEA member who first started being involved by attending the BuildingEnergy conference, and now only a few years later, I’m one of the leaders helping to organize it! Many conferences are organized in a pay-to-play way, but BuildingEnergy Boston’s content is curated by NESEA members who only care about high quality material and advancing the field. I think that’s why the offerings are always so strong.
GET: What happens on the trade show floor?
SW: In addition to the educational opportunities that attendees enjoy, there is also an impressive floor of high performance building and energy products, services, schools, publications (including Green Energy Times!) and nonprofit organizations with tables on a vibrant trade show floor. We’ve planned happy hours, special programs, and community meals to coincide with times that attendees can conveniently visit these tables and have other exciting programming in the works to keep the party going.
Stephan Wollenburg is an independent renewable energy procurement and demand response consultant. Prior to going solo, he worked at the Cape Light Compact and the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance.