NOVI — The Engineering Society of Detroit-DTE Energy conference drew a crowd of 800 people this week, just like last year’s version of the event.

But a more diverse offering of track sessions attracted a more diverse crowd than prior years’ events, ESD officials said.

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Tracks in industrial energy, commercial energy, energy education, energy finance and municipal energy drew attendees from manufacturing, commercial real estate and municipalities to the event at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

Individual sessions touched everything from advanced lighting technologies to making municipal wastewater treatment plans more energy-efficient to strategies for small business to coming up with an energy efficiency plan that will attract financing.

Keynote speaker Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, told the crowd that Snyder has three main goals for energy development — reliability, affordability and protection of the environment. She complained about Michigan’s high energy costs and said the Snyder administration plans to unveil a major energy policy proposal late this year, including new targets for renewables and energy efficiency.

ESD officials said session presentations, pictures and graphics will be up soon at

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ESD officials also announced winners of up to $250,000 in the organization’s first-ever E-Challenge, launched last year by DTE and ESD. The Mackinac Technology Co. of Grand Rapids and Los-Angeles-based Enovative Group Inc. were chosen out of a field of 65 applicants as having the highest projected potential energy savings. A panel of judges from ESD made the awards.

The Mackinac Group developed a highly effective insulation system that employs full size window inserts for R-10 thermal performance. Low-e panes were produced by Fraunhofer and frame and spacer components by Mackinac. The company used Grand Rapids-based Calvin College to conduct the testing.

The Enovative Group, which has worked on numerous projects in Michigan, created a demand-controlled water recirculation for multifamily properties. This is an advanced control system that regulates the operation of the hot water recirculation pump in multifamily, dorm or hotel settings so that it only runs when needed, reducing unnecessary heat loss and boiler fire time. The group used eight different sites in Ann Arbor, Canton, Riverview, Detroit, and Clawson to test the technology. 

In addition to the E-Challenge, several other local companies received special awards for their energy efficiency programs. The Energy Savings Award recognizes companies that have made significant contributions in reducing energy.  The Sustainable Energy Program Award recognizes companies that have made most contribution in the area of energy conservation behavioral programs. 

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The winners were:
* DTE Energy Savings Project of the Year– Industrial: Air Technologies, Grand Rapids and Livonia
* DTE Energy Savings Project of the Year– Commercial: Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, Royal Oak
* DTE Energy Savings Project of the Year–Commercial: Hiller’s Markets (throughout Michigan)
* DTE Energy Savings Project of the Year–Municipal: The City of Center Line
* DTE Energy Savings Project of the Year–Small Business: Meadows Party Store, Farmington Hills
* DTE Sustainable Energy Program of the Year–Commercial: Palace Sports & Entertainment, Auburn Hills
* DTE Sustainable Energy Program of the Year–Small Business: Temple Kol Ami, West Bloomfield,