The first-ever National ESCO Week is set to begin Monday, November 16th, 2020, led and hosted by the National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO). In years past around this time, NAESCO and its members were typically preparing for the annual conference and vendor showcase, which in 2019 took on a new name; Renovate, Retrofit, Reduce (R3) Conference. The annual NAESCO conferences are highly attended and bring together a diverse group of industry leaders and experts. Attendees walk away with new relationships, an understanding of changes to the industry and market trends, a view into new technology and innovation, and, ultimately, guidance for what can be expected for the upcoming year.
In late spring, when COVID-19 guidelines were enacted, the NAESCO staff made the tough decision to cancel the 2020 R3 Conference. During the initial conversation, there was no plan for replacing the in-person conference with a virtual webinar-based conference. The consensus was that there would be no conference this year.
With this decision made, the NAESCO staff turned their attention to providing timely and steady communication and webinars to its members to help them navigate the impacts of COVID-19. In previous years, NAESCO conducted four to five webinars per year. In 2020, to date, they have conducted ten webinar events, including a three-day virtual event focusing on how the public-sector market has changed due to COVID-19 and how ESCOs can best assist their customers during the uncertain times.
The response to the webinars inspired NAESCO Executive Director, Dr. Timothy Unruh, to re-think replacing the annual event. Dr. Unruh states;
“As we moved into fall, NAESCO held a couple of webinars in September and October. We saw that the response from our members was very strong. That meant despite general webinar burn-out, our members were making a concerted effort to be engaged and actively look for information about the market. As I contemplated this, I came up with the concept to declare a National ESCO Week that included webinars specifically focused on ESCOs.“
The past year brought growth and development within the ESCO network, challenges due to COVID-19, and the opportunity for ESCOs to innovate. When Dr. Unruh started to piece together the event, he focused in on topics ESCOs would like to know more about. When asked what three key topics National ESCO Week will be geared towards, Dr. Unruh’s response was;
“First, ESCO Representation & Advocacy – With NAESCO becoming more closely aligned with the Energy Services Coalition (ESC) and the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition (FPCC), we need to present a collective image of what’s happening in the support for ESCOs.
Second, Technical Advancement Opportunity – The Department of Energy will be presenting a new approach to Combined Heat and Power. We will be discussing how to apply CHP in a broader fashion than just industrial and high heat loads.
Third, Contracting Availability Concerns – Contracting has always been a big concern for ESCOs. While the COVID-19 environment disrupted the whole country, we believe this is an aberration and not permanent. And if that’s the case, that means that in a year, we’ll be back in the same situation where ESCOs cannot find contractors to do the work.“
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of ESCOs has been amplified. As public buildings are faced with an uncertain financial future and staffing concerns, it’s become more difficult to repair buildings. In addition, facilities managers realize deferred maintenance is working against them in combating COVID-19. With inadequate performing HVAC systems, deferred maintenance can no longer be on the back burner. ESCOs play a critical role in providing solutions to recover from the pandemic and Build Back Better.
As Dr. Unruh and the NAESCO staff prepare for a highly anticipated, informative week of discussion and information sharing, the messaging the organization is looking to provide its members and attendees is clear. The ESCO industry is a significantly recognized worldwide industry that provides a solution to meet climate, funding, and pandemic needs. There is a lot of activity happening to promote and help ESCOs move forward in the market. NAESCO has the success of ESCOs and affiliates at the forefront of their work during these unprecedented times and will continue to ensure ESCOs have the smooth pathway and support they need.
For a full list of NAESCO led advocacy, visit https://naesco.org/actions.
National ESCO week includes three virtual information sessions and NAESCO member meetings. To see the full agenda and to register, visit https://www.naesco.org/event?EventID=7323.
Follow the conversation using the hashtag #ESCOweek.
The National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO) has been advancing the energy efficiency industry for more than 35 years. NAESCO is the leading national trade organization representing and promoting the energy efficiency industry in the energy marketplace, the media, and the government both at the state and federal level.
Dr. Timothy D. Unruh is the Executive Director of the National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO). In this role, he manages the representation of its member Energy Service Companies. NAESCO provides advocacy for the industry at the Federal, State, and Local levels and provides for member company Accreditation.