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The Current
June 2012

High Performance Buildings:
The Intersection of Sustainability and Safety

By Laura Taylor, Gaia Group

May was a busy month for the building industry; it was declared building safety month and also included a high-performance week. Collective efforts by advocacy organizations are the key to bringing awareness to critical issues of greener and cleaner buildings. Higher performance buildings consume less energy and lend to a healthier work environment because they utilize sustainable construction materials and strategies.

According to the International Code Council (ICC), the green building movement began in response to the 1973 energy crisis. Energy codes were developed to address the design of energy-efficient buildings and to encourage the installation of energy efficient mechanical, lighting and power-systems. Today, two model codes developed by the ICC are used for sustainable construction: the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), first published in 1998, and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), first published just a few months ago.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Williams
By Judy Neason, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Williams

Williams has been a consistent supporter of WCEE since I joined the organization in 2009. It's a company that has been in business for over 100 years and has a long tradition of adapting itself and seizing opportunities. This applies to how it supports its employees and why it seeks to encourage women and minorities to take on leadership roles. Most companies, and probably especially energy companies, have been steeped in traditional roles, so they need to get out of their comfort zone to make sure all employees have real opportunities. That's why it's important to have programs in place that spur real change.

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European Renewable Energy Set New Records
By Melissa C. Lott, WCEE Current Staff

The past two months have been an exciting time for the European renewable power industry. In April and May, two of Europe's main renewable energy powerhouses - Spain and Germany - set new wind and solar power records. In doing so, these countries demonstrated the increasing maturity of their renewable power fleets. And they gave us another glimpse of the potential for the major role for renewable energy's in the world's electricity future.

The first record was set by Spain's wind farms, which currently boast almost 22 GW in installed turbines, making the country second (to Germany) in total capacity in Europe. According to the Spanish transmission company Red Eléctrica de EspaƱa (REE), these wind farms produced a total of 3,094 GWh of power from April 1-18, 2012. This was a more than 42 percent increase in total solar generation compared to the same period in 2011. Perhaps even more incredibly, during the wee hours of the following morning Spain set a new record when it met 61 percent of its power demand using this renewable energy resource.

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The Center for Advanced Engineering
and Research
By Pat McMurray, Communications Consultant

Visiting the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research near Lynchburg, Virginia is an aesthetic treat. The Center is an unusually beautiful modern building that fits perfectly into its wooded setting. The structure reflects the woods around it in color and in design. The building is blue, green and tan. The supports for the roof and ceiling are abstract 'tree' forms. Inside, wide glass walls and open workrooms make visitors feel they are still in the woods - natural beauty is right outside the glass. Inside is the latest in engineering technology.

The Center opened in August 2011. Several years before, business leaders in South-Side Virginia became concerned for the future of their region, which had relied on tobacco farming, textiles, and shoe manufacturing throughout much of the twentieth century. Those industries were passing into history. The business leaders realized that if they were to attract twenty-first century businesses, they needed to create a research university environment. Although there were research universities in other parts of Virginia, there were none in the south central or southwestern regions of the state. This center was created to fill that need.

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WCEE's April 5th Women in Leadership Breakfast with EPA Deputy Gina McCarthy
By Elisabeth R. Myers, Partner, Husch Blackwell, LLP

Keynote speaker Gina McCarthy, the Deputy Administrator of EPA, dazzled a crowded ballroom of WCEE members and guests at WCEE's Women in Leadership Committee Breakfast at the Cosmos Club on April 5, 2012. McCarthy, who has worked in government-appointed positions for all 40 years of her career, described how her formative years in the 1960s and her experiences during college shaped her views on how to be successful in government.

"I didn't know if I was middle or lower class or poor, but there was never a moment when my life was dull. I am a working class person. I always have and always will be. I grew up in the 60's and work was part of what you do." I identified with McCarthy when she said that in college she fell in love with social anthropology and that it made her realize how ridiculous any one single way of thinking is. For example, "A shaman is someone with a psychosis in our society, yet somebody revered in more so-called 'primitive' societies. My degree in social anthropology prepared me for this job more than anything else. If you have ever seen a primitive society, government is it."

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WCEE's Membership Meeting with Susan Eisenhower, President, Eisenhower Group
By Barbara Tyran, Chair, Membership Committee

WCEE was honored to host Susan Eisenhower, President, Eisenhower Group, Inc., as the featured speaker at the fourth annual Membership Meeting. Approximately 60 people responded to the invitation to hear her thoughtful presentation on "The Importance of Energy from a National Security Perspective."

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A Note from the Editor

Interested in starting a lively debate around an environmental or energy issue? Want to share your perspective on home energy efficiency, commuting, or other topics? The WCEE Current is always seeking interesting articles and commentaries. We also highlight the work of our members, be it awards, publications written, interviews, or new jobs. If you are interested in writing a piece or highlighting yourself or another member for the Current, please contact me at

Copyright 2011 WCEE. Reproduction of material from The Current without permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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Melissa C. Lott, DOE

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Laura Walter, PJM

Pat McMurray, Communications Consultant, Chair, WCEE's Marketing & Communications Section

Jayne Brady, Public Relations Consultant, Co-chair, WCEE's Marketing & Communications Section

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