The Cleantech Commonwealth: Undersecretary Barbara Kates-Garnick Keynotes the Building Technologies Symposium

Barbara Kates-Garnick speaking at the 2012 Building Technologies Symposium. Image credit: David Fox/GACC.

Barbara Kates-Garnick speaking at the 2012 Building Technologies Symposium. Image credit: David Fox/GACC.

On June 21st, 2012, Fraunhofer CSE co-hosted the Building Technologies Symposium, a cross-disciplinary event intended to bring together building technology researchers and industry representatives to discuss the barriers and issues they face in the North American market. Keynote speaker Barbara Kates-Garnick, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Energy at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, used the occasion to highlight several recent milestones in the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to build a vibrant, robust, clean energy industry in Massachusetts.  Notable metrics from her presentation included:

  • On the renewable energy front: since 2007, Massachusetts has added nearly 120 MW of wind and solar power to the state’s energy mix, which translates to more than a 30-fold increase in solar power capacity and a 10-fold increase in land-based wind power.
  • The Commonwealth’s clean energy industry grew nearly 7 percent in the last year, adding thousands of jobs. At current, there are an estimated 5,000 companies employing nearly 64,000 clean energy workers. Energy efficiency comprises the largest segment of the clean energy sector, at 54.5 percent.
  • The Commonwealth has reinvested Recovery Act funds into programs that fuel energy efficiency projects, including $16 million for a High Performance Building Initiative intended to demonstrate ways to cut energy use in buildings across the Commonwealth.
  • Massachusetts has recognized that energy efficiency requires local commitment, and its implementation of the Green Communities Act has been so successful that over 100 cities and towns are soon expected to be part of the program. To date, more than 2.7 million Massachusetts residents live in a Green Community — 42 percent of the Commonwealth’s population.
  • Energy efficiency is the Commonwealth’s top priority. Underlining this is the fact that Massachusetts was recently ranked number one in energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, beating California. According to Secretary Kates-Garnick, “this designation remains extremely important to us and drives us to find ways to ensure that we remain #1.”

As Secretary Kates-Garnick noted, “Fraunhofer can add tremendous value to the dialogue, outcomes, the analysis and planning that are already underway. As we seek to measure, evaluate, and monitor and verify, [it] will be necessary to ensure program success and results. Fraunhofer can continue to have a substantive role in deploying technologies that will enable Massachusetts to meet its ambitious global warming and energy efficiency goals.”

Since its inception, Fraunhofer CSE has actively supported the Commonwealth in its cleantech agenda on three levels in particular: through job creation and workforce development, through research, and in an ongoing advisory capacity. Throughout her speech, Secretary Kates-Garnick touched on these efforts, highlighting CSE’s contributions to the Massachusetts cleantech ecosystem.

Beyond offering high-value, high-impact jobs at its Cambridge facility, CSE provides hands-on training for tomorrow’s clean energy leaders through a competitive and well-regarded internship program, one that has graduated over 50 interns in disciplines ranging from electrical engineering to new technology assessment. Further Massachusetts jobs have also been created through CSE’s financial and logistical support of promising cleantech companies via the U-Launch awards. To date, U-Launch companies have closed more than $22M in follow-on funding, and have increased employee numbers accordingly.

On the research front, CSE’s projects address several strategies for reducing energy waste in buildings, ranging from the evaluation and monitoring of high-performance homes in Massachusetts to field studies of the energy-saving potential of home energy management devices such as programmable thermostats and home energy displays. Several of these projects were carried out with support from the US Department of Energy’s Building America Program, which funds research into methods for reducing home energy consumption while simultaneously improving building quality.

On an advisory level, CSE team members have sat on both Governor Deval Patrick’s Zero Net Energy Building (ZNEB) Task Force and Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC). In her keynote, Secretary Kates-Garnick remarked that “Fraunhofer and other partnerships will definitely play a large role in helping us achieve a 20 percent reduction of the state’s anticipated energy demand through energy efficiency in 2020.” In addition, CSE plays an advisory role in the Commonwealth’s other clean energy development efforts, offering free and independent technical assessments of programs and related issues such as solar panel toxicity.

For more information on the Secretary’s keynote and the Building Technology Symposium event, please visit our event page.

[Additional content by Martin Sachs.]

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I'm a former CSE Marketing Intern. I've worked in a variety of marketing fields, including web design, content generation, and event planning.
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