Wharton’s Role to Reduce Commercial Building Energy Consumption by 20 Percent by 2020

By Jacqueline Jenkins, Wharton MBA 1996; Energy Efficient Buildings Hub Director for the Wharton Small Business Development Center

The Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a leading contributor in catalyzing the advanced energy retrofit (AER) sector at the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), a $125 million regional innovation cluster funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The EEB Hub is charged with the goal of reducing the Greater Philadelphia region’s commercial building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and creating a model for national expansion.

Buildings are responsible for approximately 41 percent of the energy consumption in the U.S. and one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources. The conflict in oil-producing regions, volatile energy prices, heightened concerns of climate change, and global population growth, are fueling demand for more energy-efficient products; “greening” the nation’s buildings is a substantial opportunity.

In an effort to support the development of businesses in the building energy efficiency sector, the Wharton SBDC, SAP, EEB Hub, Penn Institute for Urban Research (PIUR), Wharton Risk Management Center, and the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) were sponsors of the “Building Energy Efficiency: Seeking Strategies that Work” conference on May 8, 2013 at the SAP headquarters in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown Square. Conference attendees included industry partners, small business owners, policy makers, students and representatives from academia.

The Wharton SBDC hosted a panel on financing options for emerging companies in the commercial AER market. Jacqueline M. Jenkins (WG ’96) moderated a panel that included Mark deGrandpre, Director of Investment, Physical Science, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA; William Sisson, Director of Sustainability, United Technologies Research Center; and Shari Shapiro, Partner, Cozen O’Connor Energy, Environment and Public Utilities Practice Group.

The panel discussed the growing number of opportunities for innovative companies capable of producing solutions in key energy efficiency areas such as performance measurement technologies, building knowledge and process management. Larger companies such as United Technologies Corporation are contracting with emerging businesses for niche offerings. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA recently launched a fund to invest in early-stage companies within the building energy efficient market. Shari Shapiro highlighted the lack of building energy efficiency knowledge within the current marketplace. As the market evolves, opportunities will emerge for innovative companies. To learn more about the EEB Hub, please visit www.eebhub.org.


Jacque Jenkins

Bio: Jacqueline Jenkins, EEB Hub Program Director for the Wharton SBDC, leads the effort to support business development in the energy efficient building market for the EEB Hub. Earlier in her career, she successfully raised early-stage capital and launched her own consulting practice. She also served as COO for a financial services firm.