BEST Center & Lawrence Berkeley National Lab invite you to attend the
2021 Annual Institute, Jan. 6-7 (8 am - 4 pm, PT/11 am - 7 pm ET)

Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. Since 2012, its mission has been to create high-performance technicians who can help commercial buildings to save energy, maintain comfort, and keep occupants healthy. Among its efforts, BEST assists community and technical colleges with curriculum development in building science, building automation, and energy management.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) is one of 17 national labs under the direction of the Department of Energy. LBNL's research includes energy science, biological & environmental sciences, computing & mathematics, high-energy physics, accelerator science, and energy technology. Improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances (e.g. Energy Star program) is among its prime objectives.

Co-hosted by BEST and LBNL, the 2021 Annual Institute is the premier event for faculty, students, and technical professionals aspiring to improve the knowledge and practice of high-performance building operations. This year’s theme is Sustaining Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings through Technician Education.

What to Expect - See the FAQ page also

Educational &
Technical Research

See presentations & demonstrations by leading experts.

Forum of Ideas

Converse with speakers & attendees and engage in video breakout discussions.

Virtual Expo Hall

Meet industry sponsors to learn about products, training & discounts.


Expand your connections & career potential in building operations and facilities

Why should you attend?

Come and learn about education and technology at the intersection of sustainability, energy conservation, clean energy, and healthy building operations. A dynamic line-up of speakers and interactive sessions will help you to:

  • Learn about cutting-edge technical innovations, research, teaching methods, and resources
  • Exchange ideas with speakers and attendees in video breakout rooms or the Networking Lounge
  • Meet vendors and industry sponsors in the Expo Hall for assistance with equipment, training, and discounts
  • Expand your professional connections and career potential in building operations and facilities.

Who should attend?

  • College educators and students in building science, HVAC, energy management, and building automation programs
  • Teachers of high school physics, technical, and engineering courses
  • Building engineers, technicians, and facilities managers
  • Design and construction professionals
  • Decision-makers and anyone interested in making their buildings greener and healthier!

Overview of the Institute

As the U.S. pivots to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and efforts begin to implement broader short and long term strategies to reduce the U.S. carbon footprint, the impetus for energy efficiency in buildings will gain increased emphasis. For a relatively smaller investment—for example, compared to transforming our transportation sector infrastructure--improved building efficiency will offer near term solutions to meet longer term climate change mitigation goals. At the same time, safety concerns related to COVID-19, the rising Healthy Buildings movement, and growing awareness of the relationship between commercial indoor environmental quality and worker productivity are leading to much greater focus on building operational health and safety. In addition, ongoing technical innovations in Building Automation Systems (BAS) applications, building de-carbonization strategies, on-site energy generation and storage, grid interactive energy management--the list goes on—are also impacting building operations. As the buildings sector builds back greener and healthier, the role and importance of technicians and engineers operating these buildings will become steadily greater. Similarly, the scope and importance of the education and training of building technicians and engineers will also be magnified. As BEST Center tracks these changes, it does so in recognition of its core mission: to support the education and training of the next generation of building technicians.

Speakers selected for this year’s 2021 National Institute will highlight the important themes identified above: (1) the value of Healthy Buildings; (2) ASHRAE guidelines on building ventilation; (3) the Global Carbon Cycle; (4) a new software tool for energy retrofits; (5) a new BAS simulation tool; (6) Grid Interactive Efficient Buildings; and (7) Energy Management Information Systems. In addition to these presentations, the Institute will also feature faculty from the BEST College Network leading sessions on Virtual Problem-based Learning strategies, Establishing a Tool Lending Library for Remote Lab Instruction, STEM Recruitment Strategies for Youth and Women, and Curriculum Guidance for BEST’s High Performance Building Operations Professional certification.

Agenda and Speakers

(All times listed in Pacific time zone)

Wednesday, Jan. 6

8:30 to 9:25 am

Keynote: Putting the Building to Work - The Business Case for Healthy Buildings

12:45 to 1:25 pm

Getting Noticed: Recruiting Traditional Learners for High-tech STEM Programs

1:30 to 2:10 pm

Recruiting and Retaining Women in Building Automation: Outreach Activities to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

3:00 to 4:00 pm

Small Group Discussions/Reflections on Day 1

NSF's ATE Program: What Is It & How Do You Get Support for Your Grant Proposal? - Kathy Alfano, Celeste Carter (NSF-ATE Director), Karen Birch, and Liz Teles

Healthy Buildings: The Future of Commercial Real Estate - Laurie Gilmer (Facility Engineering Associates) & Larry Chang (BEST Center)

Project Based Learning in an Online Environment - Robert Nirenberg (Metropolitan Community College)

Thursday, Jan 7

8:30 to 9:25 am

9:30 to 10:10 am

11:10 to 12:00 pm

Problem Based Learning in a Virtual Environment: Troubleshooting an Air Terminal Unit

12:15 to 1:00 pm

Grid Interactive Efficient Buildings and Automated Demand Response  

1:50 to 2:30pm

2:35 to 3:30 pm

Small Group Discussions/Reflections on Day 2

Open Educational Resources - Richard Gentry (Sacramento City College)

Remote Learning Strategies for Building Science & HVAC - Rob McNabb (Northshore Technical Community College) & Ted Wilinski (MATC)

Healthy Buildings: Post-COVID Building Operations - Paul Ehrlich (Building Intelligence Group)

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