This piece was originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Chances are you are reading this indoors. We spend almost our entire lives in buildings. Whether at home at work, learning in school, or recuperating at a hospital, buildings are integral to our lives. Consequently, NEMA and electrical manufacturers are working to make sure we are safe, healthy, and productive in those buildings. Here is a snapshot of some of the important work at NEMA to improve building performance:

Improving Code Enforcement with Augmented Reality

Building codes like the National Electrical Code® and the International Energy Conservation Code are updated every three years, and building inspectors are often asked to enforce 10 or more different codes. Because new information enters every three years, unsurprisingly, code violations are sometimes not discovered. A NEMA Strategic Initiative is exploring how to use augmented reality to give building inspectors heads-up information about specific code provisions, making their jobs easier and improving code compliance.

Creating Markets Through Building Performance Transparency

I would not buy a car without knowing its efficiency rating, but I cannot say I have been this vigilant in understanding my home’s energy performance. (Largely thanks to my NEMA experience, I surely am more attentive now.) NEMA has successfully advocated for local energy benchmarking and labeling policies—now enacted in more than two dozen cities—that require buildings to measure and disclose their energy performance. These policies have resulted in hundreds of millions  of dollars of energy-efficiency upgrades. Also, the High Performance Buildings Council promotes the adoption of technologies and systems that increase energy efficiency, safety, resilience, sustainability, productivity, and security in buildings.  A companion Strategic Initiative is identifying gaps in existing building labels of different types, and we believe the use of measurable attributes of modern electrical technologies would mitigate these.

Electrifying Building Systems

In the 1950s and 1960s, the NEMA Living Better Electrically campaign issued approximately one million homeowners a Total Electric Award gold medallion for converting their homes from coal, gas, and oil to electric heating and appliances. The campaign focused on how much cleaner and less expensive electric heating  and cooking is, in addition to the increased property value from electrifying one’s home. Fast-forward 60 years and homeowners and building owners are once again pursuing electrification as a means to reduce emissions and save money. NEMA is leading the way by developing and promoting electric vehicle-ready building codes, advocating for electric heating adoption, and facilitating building-sited distributed energy resources communication and integration with the grid to improve reliability and reduce the cost of electricity.

I urge you to join NEMA in promoting the safe, efficient, and reliable buildings of the future. For more information about any of these activities, please   contact Suzanne Alfano, NEMA Industry Director for Building Systems (suzanne.alfano@nema.org). To find out how to join NEMA, contact Vi Lilly, Membership Director (vi.lilly@nema.org). ei

Kevin J. Cosgriff
NEMA President and CEO

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