Former Washington Post Publisher Addresses Eastern Graduates

Written by Ed Osborn

                                                     Eastern Graduates 1,238 at XL Center

David Graham

David Graham

Hartford, CT — Former Washington Post Publisher Donald Graham told the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 127th Commencement exercises to “treasure this college. Eastern has given you a wonderful education . . . once you are making a living, give something back so that you can help Eastern continue to be great in the future.”

The annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 17, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,180 undergraduates and 58 graduate students received their diplomas.

Graham also told the graduates, “Throughout our history, American leaders have stood up in times of peril — during the American Revolution, during the Civil War, confronting Hitler, standing up to Communism, and advancing civil and women’s rights.  At some time in your life, you will be asked to stand up for what is right, and I know you will answer the call.” Noting that the American political system has worked very well for more than 200 years, Graham said, “Future politicians will say, ‘I will fight for you.’  That’s fine. But ask them, ‘What will you do when you are done fighting?’”

Commencement 2017 Crowd_7167The commencement speaker also received an honorary degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. Graham is chairman of Graham Holdings Co., formerly the Washington Post Co. A graduate of Harvard College, he is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving as an information specialist with the First Cavalry Division from 1967-68.  He later served as a patrolman on the Washington, D.C., police force before joining the staff at the Washington Post in 1971 as a reporter.  Graham assumed the position of publisher of the Washington Post in 1979, following in the footsteps of his mother, Katherine Graham, who led the newspaper following her husband Philip Graham’s passing in 1963. In 1991, Donald Graham took over leadership as chief executive officer of the Washington Post Co.

Commencement 2017 Nunez and BabyIn 2013, Graham and his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amanda Bennett, joined Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Henry R. Munoz III, chairman of Munoz & Company, to co-found TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrant youth get access to a college education. Since its founding, TheDream.US has raised $91 million in scholarship funds, providing financial support to 1,700 college students nationwide. Graham also co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program; he remains a member of the board.  The program has helped double the number of District of Columbia public high school students going on to college and has helped triple the number graduating from college.

Commencement 2017 Nunez Shakes HandOther speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Matt Fleury, chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and University System; and Senior Class President Abigail Caselli, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Ellen Lang ’81, president of the ECSU Alumni Association; Father Larry LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.

Commencement 2017 BEST BalloonNunez told the graduates she was confident they would impact the world in three ways,  first as professionals in the workforce, equipped with “. . . a highly desired set of skills” sought by the majority of American employers — “analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills, the broad intellectual and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.” Nunez also urged the graduates to give back to their communities, quoting Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, who once said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Waving BESTLastly, Nunez encouraged the Eastern seniors to “. . . exercise your duties and rights as American citizens. Our nation remains a beacon of freedom and a guiding light for other nations to follow, not because of our military might or our economic power, but because of the political, religious and personal freedoms we enjoy.”

Commencement 2017 Four LadiesNoting those freedoms must be protected, Eastern’s president went on to say, “Being a citizen of this great nation is clearly an investment of time, but it is the only way we can protect the freedoms we hold dear. Never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else.  Be willing to question the status quo.  And stand up for the values you believe in.”

Commencement 2017 FamiliesMore than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. As Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 163 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Commencement 2017 Student PresidentSenior Class President Abigail Caselli presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2017 scholarship — and thanked her classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. “To a room filled with the next great doctors, nurses, actors and actresses, genetic counselors, presidents of universities, human resource managers and professors, just to name a few of the success stories to be written about my fellow graduates, I encourage you to use the opportunities that Eastern has given you and make the world around you better.  As someone once said, ‘Service is the highest form of leadership.’ May each of you find and share that leadership within you.”

Matt Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. “Today is a significant milestone for you,” he said. “We are proud of your accomplishments and applaud the many sacrifices you have made to get here. Your journey to this point was not easy, but for that reason, it is so much more satisfying. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference.”Commencement 2017 SelfiesMark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also spoke to the graduates. “You have come a very long way since the first day you arrived at Eastern,” said Ojakian. “Life will take you in many different directions after you leave here tonight. The road in front of you is undefined. But I am hopeful that our state and our nation will be in a better place — as you become your future.”Commencement 2017 Christina

Commencement 2017 Foot GuardFrom the Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, this year’s graduation ceremonies again reflected Eastern’s Commencement traditions.

Commencemetn 2017 SingersUniversity Senate President Maryanne Clifford presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Abigail Perreira and Kristin Uschkureit sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Leigha Grushkin gave the invocation; and Environmental Earth Science Professor Peter Drzewiecki was recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

Eastern Presents Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service Awards

Written by Dwight Bachman

Left to right, Sierra Colon, Carlos Hernandez and Gloria Bent

Left to right, Sierra Colon, Carlos Hernandez and Gloria Bent

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/24/2017) Willimantic, CT- Sierra Colon, a political science major from Wethersfield, CT, and president of the Organization of Latin American Students at Eastern Connecticut State University; Carlos Hernandez, a member of the maintenance staff at Eastern; and Gloria Bent, past president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, have been named recipients of Eastern’s 2017 Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service Award.

The awards, presented on April 19 in the Student Center Theatre, recognize individuals who best exemplify the teachings of Chavez, the late labor leader and human rights activist who advocated for fairness, equity and justice for farm workers. The awards also recognize individuals who have performed extraordinary service in support of the Latin-American community by either developing or contributing to programs or activities that focus on positive development of minority youth and/or foster minority educational opportunities and advancement.

“I think Cesar Chavez would look at our three award recipients and see three people who focus their time on

Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Eastern President Elsa Nunez

meeting the needs of others,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Sierra Colon, Carlos Hernandez and Gloria Bent have demonstrated exemplary leadership in service to the Latin American community, the Eastern campus and the community-at-large. They remind us of our own responsibility to serve others, so that everyone may share in the American Dream.”

In addition to serving as president of OLAS, Colon ’17 has been a resident assistant and has also served as a student orientation counselor, peer mentor and tutor for elementary students in Willimantic. This past summer, she was awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship from the U.S. State Department, which allowed her to complete a two-month internship in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked on agriculture reform and social justice issues. Colon has also secured an internship with the Department of Environmental and Energy Projection. She has advocated for affordable tuition at meetings hosted by state representatives. Graduating with honors, Colon plans to attend graduate school, focusing on higher education and policy reform.

Hernandez came to Eastern 31 years ago, while working part time at the post office. Over the years, he has supervised numerous students while serving as a mover, carpenter, painter and landscaper.

In Willimantic, Hernandez has visited halfway homes operated by Windham Area Interfaith Ministry) to donate clothes and talk with people transitioning from prison. He and his wife have served as foster parents for neglected children, and have adopted and raised five children.

Gloria Bent is a member of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of Northeastern Connecticut, and the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut. She has been active in the league for 11 years, encouraging citizen participation in all levels of government through education and advocacy.

A resident of Mansfield for more than 40 years, Bent has served for four years on Mansfield Advocates for Children and two years on Mansfield’s Advisory Committee on the Needs of Persons with Disabilities. She earned a diploma in nursing from Saint Joseph Infirmary School of Nursing in Atlanta, GA, and a bachelor of arts from St. Joseph College in West Hartford, where she majored in religious studies and minored in women’s studies.

MEDIA ADVISORY: 300 Students to Participate in Eastern Research Conference

WILLIMANTIC, CT — The Third Annual CREATE Conference at Eastern Connecticut State University will take place this Friday, April 21, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CREATE stands for “Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern,” and is the University’s premier conference showcasing student research and creative activity.

All activities take place in the Student Center except for an exhibit of student art taking place in room 223 of the Wood Support Services Center from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

From art to zoology, Shakespeare to social media, tax law to terrorism, Eastern students of all majors explore important concepts and produce exemplary research and creative work; the culmination of their work this academic year will be on display at CREATE. The one-day conference will feature more than 300 Eastern undergraduates, who will present talks, professional posters, live music, dance performances, art and photography exhibits, documentary films and panel discussions.

“CREATE is a reaffirmation of Eastern’s commitment to undergraduate research as Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university,” said Niti Pandey, business administration professor and conference co-chair. Reflecting on this year’s record number of participants, she added, “There is a wonderful variety of presentations and performances for people to see. CREATE 2017 showcases the hard work and talent of our students and demonstrates the dedication of their faculty mentors. We look forward to an excellent event!”

Members of the Eastern campus and surrounding communities are invited to browse the conference’s many cultural and academic offerings. “CREATE will be a superb learning experience for all who participate and a true celebration of our student’s achievements,” said Patricia Szczys, biology professor and conference co-chair.

Registration takes place at 8:15 a.m. in the Student Center Café, and the opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Those interested in the event but unable to attend the whole conference can view the schedule and presentation details at Ample parking is available in the University’s two parking garages.

NOTE TO NEWS MEDIA:  The news media is invited to attend and cover the conference. This event is a marvelous collection of academic presentations, plays, musical performances, art on exhibit, and other student work — more than 300 students in all. Students and faculty mentors are available for interviews, and there will be host of photography opportunities. Come and see how undergraduates at Eastern are doing research commonly found only in graduate programs at larger institutions!

Eastern to Host 10th Annual Day of Giving

Written by Michael Rouleau

day of giving dessertWillimantic, Conn. – More than 700 members of the Willimantic community are expected to visit Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 23 for the 10th annual Day of Giving. The event will take place in Hurley Hall, where the campus community is expected to serve a record number of Thanksgiving meals to lower-income community members. Food will be served from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

day of giving mascott (002)Eastern students, faculty and staff will volunteer to serve food and clean up after the event, with food provided and prepared by Chartwells, Eastern’s food service contractor. Additional sponsors include the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the ECSU Foundation, Inc., which donated turkeys and will fund bus transportation for guests.

The Day of Giving was created in 2007 by Jason Budahazy ’09, and has since become an established event in Willimantic during the holiday season.

For the four weeks leading up to the event, the CCE conducted food drives to support local food pantries, including the Covenant Soup Kitchen and Salvation Army in Willimantic. Area grocery stores that participated include Willimantic Food Co-op, Bob’s IGA and Norwich Stop and Shop. In total, more than 2,100 canned food items were collected and more than $1,400 were donated. The Eastern community also participated in an on-campus food drive, collecting more than 2,700 food items, with donations still coming in.

Members of the media are encouraged to attend the Day of Giving. For more information, contact Michael Rouleau at (860) 465-0172 or

Princeton Review Names Eastern a 2016 Green College

: The rear façade of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center — currently under review for receiving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

The rear façade of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center — currently under review for receiving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review. The Review featured Eastern in its 2016 “Guide to 361 Green Colleges,” published on Oct. 4 and available at

This is the seventh year in a row that Eastern has made the list of the nation’s top green colleges, which is based on data from the Princeton Review’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning their commitment to the environment and sustainability.

“We are proud to again be recognized as an environmentally-friendly school by this important publication,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. “We’re happy that today’s college students value sustainability, and that our institutional efforts to minimize environmental impact have not gone unnoticed.”

In addition to a strong environmental earth science program and university initiatives that emphasize sustainability, Eastern’s campus boasts four LEED-certified buildings featuring daylight harvesting and gray-water systems, recycled flooring, native plants and biofilter systems to reduce rainwater runoff. Furthermore, the ISE addresses energy issues in the region by supporting the development of sound public energy policy, providing K-12 energy education and professional development, and solutions to community resource issues.

“We strongly recommend Eastern and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher.

Franek noted the growing interest the company has seen among college-bound students in green colleges. “Among more than 10,000 teens and parents who participated in our 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college.”

Profiles of Green Colleges found in The Princeton Review’s Guide include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2016 for 640 colleges using data from its 2015-16 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were considered in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the guide.


The Courant Names Eastern a 2016 Top Workplace

Written by Michael Rouleau

Top Places LogoWillimantic, CT — For the fifth time in the past six years, the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With 961 employees, Eastern ranked fourth in the “large” category, and was the only higher education institution to be recognized among 61 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 18 in the Hartford Courant.

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by WorkplaceDynamics LLP, a research and consulting firm that has compiled top employer lists for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations.
The survey included 24 statements, with employees asked to assess each one on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Topics included organizational direction, workplace conditions, effectiveness, managers and compensation. Each company was assigned a score based on a formula.
Survey statements included: “This company operates by strong values and ethics”; “I have confidence in the leader of this company”; “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life”; for example.

“We are honored to be recognized as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “While Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our campus has always prided itself on its sense of community and for being a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, their families and the community-at-large. This announcement is a wonderful reminder that Eastern is a great workplace for our faculty and staff and I am delighted that we were among those recognized.”

Eastern Jumps Seven Places in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Written by Ed Osborn
US News and World Report-FlagsEastern Connecticut State University moved up seven places among regional universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 edition of “Best Colleges” to 85th overall; Eastern was also tied for 26th place among public universities on the list. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 13.

Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities, and this year’s ranking was Eastern’s best ever.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

US News and World Report-Campus Scene“I am gratified to see Eastern achieve its highest ranking ever in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to academic excellence, our focus on student engagement and the introduction of new majors have resulted in strong scores for such criteria as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These new rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a quality, affordable liberal arts education on our beautiful residential campus.”
US News and World Report- Residential Halls ExteriorThis year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,374 schools nationwide and are available at They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 4.

Eastern Cuts the Ribbon to Formally Open Fine Arts Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Left to right: Music Professor David Belles; Art History Professor Anne Dawson; Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge, Yvette Melendez, vice-chair of the Board of Regents; Douglas Johnston of William Rawn & Associates (architects); Dr. Nunez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; Robert Pulito of SLAM Collaborative (architects); Pasquale Salemi, deputy commissioner of DCS; SGA President Justin Ahern; State Sen. Mae Flexer, and State Rep. Susan Johnson.

Left to right: Music Professor David Belles; Art History Professor Anne Dawson; Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge, Yvette Melendez, vice-chair of the Board of Regents; Douglas Johnston of William Rawn & Associates (architects); Dr. Nunez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; Robert Pulito of SLAM Collaborative (architects); Pasquale Salemi, deputy commissioner of DCS; SGA President Justin Ahern; State Sen. Mae Flexer, and State Rep. Susan Johnson.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — On April 5, 2016, Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, led the formal opening of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Núñez was joined by Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Yvette Meléndez, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; Pasquale Salemi, deputy commissioner of the Division of Construction Services in the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services; and other state and local dignitaries, as well as an audience of more than 125 Eastern faculty, students and staff.

Núñez noted the “transformational impact of art” in our lives, characterizing art as a “vehicle for change.” She noted that the building was the last piece of the campus Master Plan developed by former President David Carter, and also thanked the faculty in the Art & Art History and Performing Arts Departments for their patience in waiting for the building, which was delayed a number of times over the years due to budgetary constraints and other campus needs.

Meléndez said, “To have this facility in Willimantic is a gift” to the entire community, while Ojakian said the “amazing building” was “an investment in the future of our students and our state.”

Salemi noted that the $64 million building represented more than 120,000 square feet of instructional, rehearsal and performance space and was the product of hundreds of people — architects, construction workers and others.

Mayor Eldridge, whose sisters and wife attended Eastern, applauded the University’s intention of making events in the new facility available to the local community, and said, “Eastern’s commitment to our community has never wavered. Whatever Eastern builds, builds Willimantic.”

Speaking for William Rawn & Associates, the design architects for the FAIC, Douglas Johnston said, “The visual arts, music and theater have demonstrated a natural collaboration for centuries. This building supports that collaboration on this campus.”

The SLAM Collaborative in Glastonbury, CT, was the new building’s architects of record, having also designed Eastern’s Science Building, which opened in 2008. SLAM President Bob Pulito reflected on the time, effort and emotional investment of the hundreds of people who made the FAIC possible. “I applaud Dr. Núñez for her vision for this building that engages the community and the campus.”

Art History Professor Anne Dawson said that the new facility was being well received by students. “We have seen an immediate impact on our students. They simply couldn’t believe they were actually going to be able to work in this beautiful building. They feel valued and respected.  And I see great, renewed energy among my own students. Some tell me this is why they came to Eastern. Another student told me that this building adds a level of professionalism to her college experience that she hadn’t thought possible. We are very grateful to be working inside a work of art.”

David Belles, vocal studies director and music professor, said his students also were in awe of the new arts center. He also quoted one of his students, who said the new facility “reflects how important and vital the arts are considered at Eastern.”

The program concluded with remarks by student Justin Ahern, president of the Student Government Association, who thanked all who made the building possible and said, “My fellow students and I are proud to be ‘Warriors,’ and proud to call Eastern our home.”

Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning at Eastern

Written by Ed Osborn

campus quad nice wide shot

Willimantic, Conn. – In an effort to proactively identify hazards and vulnerabilities and the steps that can be taken to reduce these risks, the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System (CSCU) has been in the process of developing a Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan for the past 18 months. Officials at Eastern Connecticut State University are holding a public forum on Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. to present the draft Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan. As part of this meeting, which will take place at the Student Center in Room 217, a brief presentation will be given.

This plan includes CSCU’s four state universities, 12 community colleges, Charter Oak State College and the system office. The purpose of the plan is to assist the campuses in identifying and reducing risks from natural hazards; identify actions that can be taken to prevent damage to property and loss of life; and prioritize funding for mitigation efforts. The plan describes each campus’ vulnerability to the various natural hazards that are typically present, along with an array of actions and projects that can be undertaken to reduce key risks. While natural disasters cannot be prevented from occurring, the continued implementation of mitigation strategies identified in the plan will make CSCU campuses more sustainable and disaster-resilient.

Public parking for the Feb. 4 forum is available in the Shakespeare Parking Garage, located adjacent to the Student Center.  Members of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Team will be available to answer questions and listen to community and stakeholder comments. This meeting is designed as an open house where students, faculty, staff and members of neighboring communities are invited to attend the forum to gather information and provide feedback.  A draft of the Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan can be downloaded from

This project is being funded by a grant allocated by the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Eastern Collaborates to Maximize Efficiency of Next-Generation Buildings


One example of an energy efficient building is Eastern Connecticut State University’s Science Building, which opened in 2008. The building is “Silver Certified” through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Willimantic, Conn. – The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University is collaborating with prestigious national partners to launch a groundbreaking pilot program that will transform the procurement paradigm for the construction industry. The ISE, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and Seventhwave have entered into a $2 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to maximize energy efficiency in the construction of new buildings.

The national initiative, “Accelerate Performance,” will deploy innovative DOE resources that focus specifically on the performance-based procurement approach. Building owners will be empowered to include required energy outcomes in new construction contracts and to ensure accountability for building performance after construction. This approach will shift the market from energy analysis that focuses on relative savings versus a baseline, toward one where the expected performance is clearly stated up front and measured during operations. This brings results within typical construction budgets without sacrificing other building functions or amenities.

Buildings are more advanced than ever, yet often do not achieve the energy reductions promised in the design phase. By including an energy performance metric in the contract, new buildings will be required to hit that number. “The current procurement methodology for new buildings is outdated and has not kept pace with the innovations of new design concepts and technologies,” said Paul Torcellini, principal engineer for commercial buildings research at NREL. “Accelerate Performance has the opportunity to bridge policy and practice for the next generation of new buildings.”

Accelerate Performance will impact 100 buildings nationally over the next three years. It will equip utility incentive programs to reward achievement of energy goals in buildings while supporting owners and developers to adopt the approach across their portfolio. The ISE will work with Eversource and United Illuminating to integrate the use of this program in pilot projects in Connecticut. Other focus areas for the national partners include ComEd, the electric utility that serves Chicago and northern Illinois.

“Performance-based procurement allows design teams to bring their best approaches forward for superior building performance and teaches owners how to evaluate these approaches for energy performance and quality,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of the ISE. “The approach will also allow room for designers, contractors and owners to benefit financially from cost savings in both construction and operation.”

Accelerate Performance is part of a greater $6 million effort by the DOE to support  innovative pilot programs in the commercial building sector that will increase energy efficiency in buildings across the country.  By leveraging the DOE investment, Accelerate Performance will revolutionize the way building contracts are established. It will make energy performance a key metric for selecting design teams and contractors, and will catapult performance to the forefront of design decisions. “New buildings will account for 25 percent of building energy use by 2030,” said Adam McMillen, director of energy consulting at Seventhwave. “Codes aren’t always enforced, but contracts are.”

The Accelerate Performance team is currently seeking building owners interested in constructing the next generation of low- and zero-energy buildings with little or no cost premium. Projects should be in the pre-planning phase and before the design team is selected.

Learn more by contacting Lynn Stoddard at (860) 465-2813 or, or visit