EEB Hub Suppliers Platform: An Opportunity to Shape the Future

A unique opportunity is available for those with products, technologies, skills, ideas or viewpoints to share related to the energy-efficient retrofit of existing commercial buildings in the Greater Philadelphia region.  It’s an opportunity to shape a new industry, spearhead an effort with national implications, and bring new economic vitality to the Philadelphia area. Forward-thinking individuals with a willingness to provide insight, and a desire to be on the ground floor of future opportunities are invited to be part of the effort.

The opportunity comes in the form of the Suppliers Platform, organized as part of the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub).  The EEB Hub is a collaborative effort between research universities, DOE laboratories, industrial firms, and economic development agencies to reduce energy use in the Greater Philadelphia commercial buildings sector by 20 percent by 2020 through informed people, validated information and proven technologies.  The EEB Hub will design, demonstrate and deploy the advantages of integrated energy-efficient technologies and products in the retrofitting of existing commercial buildings.  This initiative represents the first time federal, state, and local public and private assets will be shared to create a formal innovation cluster that includes applied research, commercialization, manufacturing, and workforce education.  DVIRC is partnering with the EEB Hub to bring related opportunities to the region’s small and mid-size manufacturers.

The EEB Hub has recently developed four “platforms”, or stakeholder groups, to provide an infrastructure to connect the EEB Hub with the regional marketplace. The platforms will provide the EEB Hub with “voice of the customer” feedback on our work as our technology and process solutions develop from design through demonstration to deployment. The Suppliers Platform includes manufacturers, building system installation and maintenance representatives, distributors and energy services representatives.  Other platforms include Building Owners, Operators and Occupants; Architects, Engineers and Construction Managers; and Workforce and Education.

According to DVIRC EEB Hub Program Manager Sharon Ross, “We want to be sure that as policies and programs are developed around the idea of integrating products, technologies and services, that manufacturers and suppliers have a voice.  Where do they see the challenges?  What is workable, what’s not?  The practical aspects of implementation must be considered, along with the production or installation realities that manufacturers and suppliers know so well.”

The Retrofit Landscape

The EEB Hub’s focus is on commercial buildings of 100,000 square-feet or less. There are a tremendous number of these buildings in our region and throughout the U.S.  Many are in need of upgrades, especially in the area of energy efficiency.

The EEB Hub’s objective is to achieve a reduction in energy use by integrating multiple best-practice solutions. That might mean that instead of installing the biggest possible air conditioning system to cool a building, a smaller, less energy-consuming unit might be recommended along with an upgrade to energy-efficient windows.  Lighting, roofing, controls, advanced materials and many other products or technologies could also be part of the solution.

“The idea is to think beyond traditional remedies,” notes Ross, “and to instead look at the best possible mix of solutions for optimizing savings in energy use and operating costs. In doing so, more opportunities are created for those who manufacture and install these products.”  Success in the Philadelphia region could serve as a catalyst for the adoption of similar practices throughout the U.S.

The Suppliers Platform

Like each of the other platforms, the Suppliers Platform will help create an infrastructure to connect the EEB Hub with the regional marketplace. The Suppliers Platform will act as an as advisory board providing critical insights from manufacturers and suppliers that will help shape policy and influence programs proposed for development. Platform members will serve as expert reviewers, forming a first external audience for proposed EEB Hub initiatives. This “voice of the customer” feedback will continue to inform EEB Hub initiatives as technology and process solutions move from design through demonstration to deployment.

A number of area manufacturers and suppliers have already volunteered to serve as members of the Suppliers Platform, and two introductory events have been held.  The events enabled the EEB Hub to listen to Platform member feedback and gain a better understanding of the customer experience and the most relevant challenges to participating in the energy retrofit market.

Although in its infancy as a group, platform members are already seeing value in working towards the integration goal. That value has come in the ability to be in the formative stages of new opportunity, to help influence the direction of related initiatives, and to meet and network with others.

Michael Brown, CEM, serves as a chair of the Supplier’s Platform. He is also the managing partner of Element Mechanical Services, and president and CEO of Environmental Construction Services, Inc.  Brown notes that “Through my involvement with the EEB Hub and Supplier’s Platform, I’ve had the opportunity to provide input and collaborate with other suppliers, industry experts and higher learning institutions. While contributing to the EEB Hub’s efforts, I’ve gained the benefit of new knowledge and industry connections, and have witnessed new technologies.”

Andrew Gernerd, sales engineer and sales manager for Bensalem, PA.-based LED Living Technologies, is a Supplier Platform member.  He notes that, “While LED Living Technology can offer substantial energy savings through our LED retrofit and fixture lines, lighting alone is not enough to offset the high energy demands and reduce the large footprint of commercial energy consumers. The EEB Hub takes the lead and coordinates with a wide variety of suppliers and manufacturers focused on energy efficient building. As a member of the Supplier Platform, our company can work with other members and with EEB Hub to create the best collaborative solution. We’re proud to be part of it.”

Get Involved

Participation in the Suppliers Platform is open to manufacturers and suppliers who would like to contribute to the EEB Hub’s initiatives. “We looking for motivated individuals who understand that they will be working in an advisory capacity toward future opportunities,” notes Ross.  “Although members will have the first look at the tools and findings generated by EEB Hub research, demonstration and deployment projects, the goal of participation should not be business leads for today.  It’s about helping to shape a new approach to retrofitting and energy efficiency that will have a positive impact on area businesses and the region’s economic vitality down the road.”

Membership in the Suppliers Platform is voluntary, and will be limited to approximately 40 people, representing a broad cross section of businesses.  Members will be asked to attend 3-4 meetings per year.  To learn more about membership requirements, go to http://www.eebhub.org/get-connected/register-for-a-platform/ .