Building Energy Efficiency Conference


This conference was hosted by:

Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL)
Penn Institute for Urban Research
Wharton Risk Management Center
Wharton Small Business Development Center

The event was held in partnership with SAP and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub). Wharton IGEL is most grateful to SAP for its generous sponsorship of this event.

Conference-Workshop Objective: Provide an in-depth, informed and current overview about innovations in energy efficiency and how strategic environmental management and city planning will help frame future and urban economic growth.

Conference Resources

Conference Presentations:

Panel Abstracts:

Panel One: Advancing Energy Efficiency: Seeking Best Practices  (Penn IUR)
This panel  discussed best practices to advance energy efficiency.  It focused on practices in place for carbon trading and for energy efficient retrofits of commercial buildings, and solutions to the challenges of energy efficiency were presented. The speakers had a collective wealth of experience in implementing, advising and researching energy efficiency solutions including on carbon trading and on retrofit projects and their financing. The panel included: Richard Bernknopf, Research Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico; Matthew Kwatinetz, an EEB Hub investigator; and Brad Molotsky, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Brandywine Realty Trust. The panel was moderated by Eugenie Birch, Co-Director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research.

Panel Two: Raising Demand for Energy Efficiency (Wharton Risk Center)
This panel considered how demand for energy efficient buildings could be increased via multiple pathways. The perspectives of different interested parties were discussed, including building tenants and owners. The talks addressed factors that affect tenants’ demand for energy efficient buildings, building owners’ willingness to invest in energy efficient upgrades, and the construction of energy efficient buildings. Attention was given to the role of economic considerations (e.g., incentives, payback periods), technological advances, and psychological values (e.g., concern for the environment) in developing policies to stimulate demand for, and investment in, energy efficient buildings.

Panel Three: Investment Opportunities for Companies in the Building Energy Efficiency Marketplace (Wharton SBDC)
This panel explored the investment outlook for companies in the energy efficient building space, the types of transactions that are occurring, and what must still be done to increase funding opportunities. Buildings are responsible for approximately 41 percent of the energy consumption in the U.S., and are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources. Given the conflict in oil-producing regions, volatile energy prices, heightened concerns of climate change, and global population growth fuels demand for more energy-efficient products, “greening up” the U.S.’s buildings represents a big challenge and yet a substantial opportunity.

Panel Four: Policy & Regulatory Framework, with Discussion of Best Practices at the Local, National and International Level (Wharton IGEL)
This panel focused on energy efficiency policy – from high-level government policy to individual city regulation and organization management. Speakers explored the role of government intervention in the energy sector, including an evaluation of key policy tools such as standards, information campaigns and subsidies/on-bill financing. Additionally, the panel highlighted the move from conventional building energy efficiency codes to new generation “aspirational standards” to improve performance, as well as overcoming high upfront costs for energy efficiency implementations. Case studies included the U.S. Navy, the University of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia.

Follow-up Article:

Energy Efficiency: Still Wasting in the Building, by Silvia Schmid

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 197,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) was established in Philadelphia by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as an Energy-Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) on February 1, 2011 with a unique dual mission of improving energy efficiency in buildings—literally re-energizing them for the future—and promoting regional economic growth and job creation from our headquarters in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, one of the nation’s largest and most dynamic redevelopment opportunities.

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is a university-wide entity dedicated to an increased understanding of cities through cross-disciplinary research, instruction, and civic engagement. As the global human population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national, and international levels. Penn IUR is dedicated to developing knowledge in three critical areas: innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable, 21st-century city; and the role of anchor institutions in urban places. By providing a forum for collaborative scholarship and instruction across Penn’s twelve schools, Penn IUR stimulates research and engages with the world of urban practitioners and policymakers.

The Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL)’s vision is to become the preeminent institutional and educational catalyst for the adaptation of business policies and practices that will transform the world toward sustainability. Wharton and Penn, under the auspices of IGEL, could become the number one go-to destination that unites business, academia, and future leaders (namely, our students) in tackling and solving the most pressing problems of global environmental sustainability.

The Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School has been at the forefront of basic and applied research to promote effective corporate and public policies for low-probability events with potentially catastrophic consequences. The Wharton Risk Center has focused on natural and technological hazards through the integration of risk assessment and risk perception with risk management strategies.

The Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a division of the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center of Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, is one of 18 SBDCs in Pennsylvania. We provide business assistance to small businesses in the greater Philadelphia region. In the past decade over 20,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs have benefited from our support.