Big Shine Energy SAAZ Awards 2024: A Celebration of Sustainability and Innovation

On June 12, 2024, Big Shine Energy hosted its annual SAAZ Award Ceremony and Energy Symposium, a prestigious event in the sustainability sector that brings together leaders and innovators in energy efficiency. It also highlighted the achievements of the #ApproachingZero (SAAZ) campaign, an initiative launched in 2015 to honor clients who have significantly reduced their energy consumption through green measures, such as adopting LED lighting, electrification, and renewable energy.

Recognizing Sustainability Leaders

Since its inception, the SAAZ campaign has celebrated the efforts of industry giants like Sysco Foods, Starbucks Distribution Centers, Nestlé, JLL, among others. This year, the spotlight was on ten exemplary companies whose green initiatives resulted in substantial energy savings and carbon emissions reductions. The collective efforts of these companies achieved a remarkable 12,559,200 kWh annual reduction, equivalent to reducing 8,744 metric tons of CO2 annually. Honorees included Saint-Gobain, General Dynamics, Cummins, Shiseido America, Sanofi, The Honickman Companies, Penn Stainless Products, Automann USA, New York Public Library, and Holman Automotive.

Insightful Keynote Speakers

Carol Browner, Senior of Counsel at Covington & Burling, brought her extensive expertise in environmental policy to the symposium. With a distinguished career that includes serving as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1993 to 2001 and as the Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Barack Obama, Browner’s insights were particularly impactful.

During her keynote, Browner reflected on the evolution of climate change discussions over the past 40 years. She highlighted the ongoing challenges posed by carbon dioxide emissions and underscored the crucial role the private sector must play in reducing these emissions.

Browner also explored how federal policies are fostering clean energy and enhancing infrastructure resilience. She provided an overview of current initiatives and offered projections on potential advancements in these areas over the next decade.

Browner’s extensive background and her involvement at the highest levels of environmental policy added depth and authority to her analysis, making her presentation a highlight of the event.

Cara Richards, SMA America’s ambassador, shared insights on the latest advancements in photovoltaic technology at a recent symposium. With over 15 years in the renewable energy sector, her expertise was evident.

SMA, a German inverter manufacturer since 1981, has led renewable energy advancements for more than four decades. Their subsidiary, SMA America, continues this legacy with tailored solutions for North America.

Richards highlighted SMA’s ShadeFix technology, which optimizes energy yield even under shaded conditions. Unlike traditional systems that lose efficiency when shaded, ShadeFix manages power output to maintain higher energy production, making it ideal for diverse environments.

She also emphasized the importance of UL3741 certification, a key safety standard that reduces shock hazards, especially for firefighters during emergencies. SMA’s adherence to this certification ensures safer installations for both residential and commercial systems.

Richards discussed the durability and maintenance of photovoltaic systems. SMA designs reliable, long-lasting solutions that simplify maintenance, ensuring optimal performance throughout the system’s lifespan.

Her talk underscored SMA’s dedication to innovation, safety, and sustainability. With advanced technologies and robust designs, SMA continues to lead in high-performance photovoltaic solutions worldwide.

Engaging Panel Discussion

A dynamic panel discussion provided deeper insights into sustainable building practices. Moderated by Big Shine Energy, the panel featured:

  • Michael Stabile from Tridium discussed the role of AI and advanced building automation in enhancing energy efficiency. He highlighted the importance of creating a roadmap when making existing buildings more efficient.
  • Kelly Westby, PE from Steven Winter Associates elaborated on the importance of collaborating at every level within an organization to successfully implement energy efficiency projects.
  • John Sousa from TRC Companies presented the multiple programs available to New Jersey’s C&I buildings through the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, for both existing buildings and new construction.
  • William Xia, PE, PMP from NYSERDA spoke about the programs New York State has implemented to help offset the cost of energy efficiency projects and how companies can take advantage of them.

Interactive Exhibits and Innovations

Attendees at the symposium enjoyed a series of interactive exhibits, each highlighting Big Shine Energy’s latest advancements and services.

First, in the Energy Management section, visitors were introduced to advanced CT meters, Tridium hardware, and the Niagara platform, tools crucial for precise energy management. They also learned about the methodologies used in ASHRAE energy audits, which identify key opportunities for energy savings.

Next, the Lighting and Controls exhibit featured Big Shine’s high-performance LED lighting solutions. These lights are designed with superior optics, offering clear advantages for energy efficiency and functionality. Attendees could see the benefits of networked control systems, which optimize energy savings. Furthermore, the exhibit demonstrated the flexibility of color-adjustable LEDs, which can be tailored to suit different environments.

The New Jersey Clean Energy Program exhibited the many programs available for companies in the State of New Jersey that are looking to become more energy efficient and decarbonize operations as the State aims to become a 100% clean energy state by 2035. One of the highlights included the New Construction Program that promotes the adoption of cost-effective, energy efficient building practices.


The Drone Technology display was a highlight for many. Guests had the opportunity to pilot drones through simulators, providing a hands-on understanding of drone operations. They also explored how thermal drones are utilized for the maintenance of photovoltaic systems. Additionally, the exhibit showcased surveyor-grade drones used for creating detailed 3D models and FPV drones for capturing cinematic footage, illustrating their applications in various industries.

SMA America also displayed their innovative technology in solar inverters. This helped attendees to further understand the importance of having quality components in their solar photovoltaic system. Big Shine had a life-size SMA inverter to provide clients with a hands-on experience.

Finally, the Renewable Energy section focused on Big Shine’s innovative solar technologies. The standout feature was the 550W bifacial solar module, designed to capture sunlight from both sides, maximizing energy generation. Attendees learned about the manufacturing process of solar cells and silicon ingots, critical components in solar technology. Moreover, the exhibit provided best practices for designing solar systems, ensuring they are efficient and functionally connected.

Celebrating Energy Champions

The United States remains a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions, underscoring the urgent need for action. NOAA recorded 2023 as the hottest year on record, exacerbating the frequency and intensity of natural disasters worldwide. These escalating climate impacts disproportionately affect communities across the globe. Big Shine Energy extends its deepest gratitude to the Energy Champions recognized at this year’s symposium. Their unwavering dedication and innovative approaches are crucial in combating the challenges of our climate crisis. By leading efforts to reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions, these trailblazers are setting a powerful example. They’re paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future.

Big Shine Energy is profoundly grateful to all participants and awardees for their unwavering commitment to sustainability. Their efforts are crucial in this era of climate uncertainty. And their achievements inspire us all to strive for a greener, more resilient future.

Read More