Daffodils are blooming! The first glimmers of spring are arriving, and, as the last (though likely not the final) wave of the pandemic recedes, New York City is emerging from our isolation, our alienation, and, perhaps even, our recession. I realize that in the hallucinogenic attenuation of COVID time, one season unremarkably running into the next, 2021 concluded without reflection. Yet, daffodils are blooming, starlings are making a racket, and New Yorkers are taking back our streets, our parks, and —wait for it— our workspaces, with gusto, so it’s now finally time to mark a new beginning, and celebrate surviving, if not thriving, another year.
2021 was an emotional roller coaster. Despite constant headwinds, and only ephemeral hints toward normalcy, Building Energy Exchange (BE-Ex) had a phenomenally productive year advancing our mission to create compelling and effective tools to reduce carbon emissions. Our organization’s nimble resilience —and talented crew— allowed us to quickly and gracefully pivot to meet the changing demands of the moment, while nurturing the needs of our community.
“‘Exchange’ is not only part of our name, but fundamental to our core mission —meaningful, catalyzing, impactful exchange.
‘Exchange’ is not only part of our name, but fundamental to our core mission —meaningful, catalyzing, impactful exchange. During the sequestrations forced by the pandemic, BE-Ex expanded into new and effective channels to engage our community. Our young podcast, Radio BE-Ex, produced twelve captivating conversations with sustainability leaders, streamed to over 22 countries across the globe; our new on-demand e-learning platform, BE-Ex Ed, delivered over 1,500 energy efficiency courses and trainings; and our updated LL97 Carbon Calculator helped over 15,000 active users better understand the greenhouse gas emissions related to their buildings, and how to take action.
Meanwhile, our live events continued to thrive in 2021, bringing our community together to exchange ideas and learn from one another. Our Climate Mobilization Act Series hosted amazing speakers who demystified PACE financing, posited green roofs as equity infrastructure, and explained LL97’s affordable housing rules. While our WISE (Women in Sustainability and Energy) series provided new formats, like Media Clubs and Ask Me Anything spotlights. The launch of our Multifamily Retrofit Playbooks drew an engaged crowd of over 500 building decision-makers. Even our ‘remote’ 2021 Daylight Hour social media campaign succeeded with nearly 400 registrants, representing 28 U.S. states and 19 countries.
In 2021, our industrious staff also created a bounty of stunning resources to activate change; to name just a few:
- Who Cares About Energy Codes? The architect’s guide to New York City’s aggressive carbon reduction code, and three related live events from the work of the BE-Ex Architect Advisory Council.
- Easy to use Heat Pump Planners for five different home types.
- Five inspirational Low Carbon Multifamily Retrofit Playbooks.
- A groundbreaking study, Multifamily Passive House: Connecting Performance to Financing.
- A Post-pandemic Vision for City Office Buildings that speaks to our housing crisis, in collaboration with the 2020 AIA firm of the year, Architecture Research Office.
- A high performance building Envelope Showcase exhibit, and five related case study that demonstrate enclosure best practices in real building projects.
All this hard work did not go unnoticed. Building Energy Exchanged received the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter’s (AIA NY) first ever Climate Action Citation. We were also recognized for our contributions to the United Nations ECE Committee on Sustainable Energy and our leadership in helping to found the International Centres of Excellence on High Performance Buildings, at COP26, where I spoke about the power of this global knowledge-sharing network. Additionally, we hosted the Irish Trade Minister Robert Troy and his delegation, at BE-Ex, for a meaningful international exchange of decarbonization ideas, technologies, and opportunities between forward-thinking Irish and US companies.
So here’s to 2021 and all we accomplished, together. And now, with a new president, a new governor, and a new mayor, 2022 promises to be a year of growth and impactful engagement. I invite you to celebrate spring with a renewed sense of hope and what’s possible.