The award – which honored the group for catalyzing the High-Performance Buildings Initiative, drafting the framework guidelines for energy efficiency standards in buildings, and establishing International Centers of Excellence on High Performance Building – was presented at a meeting of the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) Committee on Sustainable Energy in Geneva, Switzerland on September 22.
Jenna proudly shared this recognition with other leaders in the International Centers of Excellence on High Performance Building network and colleagues who are closely aligned with the initiative: Tomas O’Leary (MosArt, Ireland Center of Excellence); Richard Yancey (Building Energy Exchange, New York Center of Excellence), Jim Freihaut (Penn State University), Bob Cavey (Praxis), and Helge Schramm (Danfoss). Jenna (along with some GBA team members who accompanied her to the meeting in Geneva) accepted the award on behalf of the entire group.
While at the meeting, Jenna also joined Carnegie Mellon University’s Vivian Loftness, Penn State University’s Justin Schwartz, Institute for Market Transformation’s Lindsey Dickes Falasca, and GBA’s Chris Cieslak, on a panel outlining their collective work with the UN’s High Performance Buildings Initiative.
“High performance buildings are a fascinating topic and should be number one on the list of considerations for member States,” said Scott Foster, Director of the Sustainable Energy Division at UNECE. At the meeting, Mr. Foster asked member States to pledge to a Commitment Trifecta which outlines international priorities for High Performance Buildings, Methane Management, and a Global Network for Sustainable Resource Management. The dialogue at this session will ultimately inform decisions being made by countries at COP26, the UN’s global climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland this November. GBA’s facilitation of the Greater Pittsburgh Center of Excellence on High Performance Building – which includes local research and implementation as well as recruitment of other Centers and participation in an international thought leaders’ group – is a vehicle for collaboration and rapid transformation of the built environment.
“Connecting people on the ground to a global network is going to help accelerate change,” Jenna said during her panel presentation. “If we are each doing this work alone, we will not achieve our climate goals. We want to see Centers of Excellence everywhere, and we hope that all member States will consider establishing Centers so we can continue this work together.”
“ Connecting people on the ground to a global network is going to help accelerate change. ”
A contingent of GBA staff members attended the Committee on Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency (GEE) meetings during the week-long session. There were over 250 people in attendance at the Sustainable Energy Committee meeting in-person and/or online.
GBA’s team also had the exceptional honor of attending a private meeting with Olga Algayerova, United Nations Under-Secretary General and UNECE Executive Secretary. The Executive Secretary is very passionate about gender equality, quantifying the health benefits of high performance buildings, and the circular economy, and she presented Jenna with her award along with Scott Foster and the chair of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, Jurgen Keinhorst.
During the very week that President Biden pledged to double U.S. financial commitments to climate change, it was an honor for GBA’s team to attend these intergovernmental discussions that focused on strategizing and sharing solutions – and we are so proud that Jenna and her colleagues were recognized for their efforts towards realizing a future where every building and every community will be sustainable so that every person can thrive.