Five BetterBuildings Case Studies Highlight Key Lessons to Improve Energy Efficiency Programs Nationwide

May 26, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the release of five case studies on May 26 from a series spotlighting some of the most innovative projects funded under the Department's BetterBuildings program. BetterBuildings is a national program that is working to transform the marketplace for energy efficiency upgrades in homes, businesses, and institutions. More than 40 state and local governments and partnering organizations received over $500 million to lay the foundation for a sustainable energy efficiency market in the United States. The case studies released May 26 will help program administrators and their partners develop and optimize energy efficiency programs to help consumers and businesses save money and reduce their energy use by making affordable energy-saving improvements.

The first five BetterBuildings case studies represent a significant first step by the program to share best practices, effective tools, and data about the performance of energy efficiency approaches. These case studies will be used as blueprints for future energy efficiency programs, and will help achieve DOE's goal of providing energy efficiency upgrades to one million homes by 2013. The release comes as a follow-up to the first What's Working in Residential Energy Efficiency Upgrade Programs Conference that took place in Washington, D.C. last week.

The case studies focus on four BetterBuildings partners in Seattle, Washington; Austin, Texas; Michigan; and Rutland, Vermont. The featured partners represent a diverse range of climates, participating partners, federal funding levels, and varying levels of local experience with energy efficiency upgrades. Each case study focuses on one vital element in the execution of an energy efficiency upgrade program—Getting Started, Program Design, Workforce, and Driving Demand. The case studies are designed and written to highlight the most successful and replicable components of the BetterBuildings partners' programs.

Two "Getting Started" case studies on the Seattle and Austin programs examine different innovative approaches to achieve a successful program launch. The city of Seattle focused on building strong partnerships to expand their program's impact, while the city of Austin used a short-term promotional effort to jump-start interest.

The Michigan "Program Design" case study explores the fast and effective roll out of an innovative delivery model—neighborhood sweeps. This approach uses intensive, neighborhood focused house-by-house campaigns to test consumer responses to different outreach methods, financing options, and incentive offerings. Under the program, the organizers are constantly evaluating results to facilitate real-time program improvement.

The "Workforce" case study, on the Austin program, explains how to work collaboratively with contractors, respond to contractors' needs, and build partnerships for marketing and program delivery.

The "Driving Demand" case study on the program in Rutland, Vermont showcases how the program encouraged partners to think creatively about engaging consumers. By understanding the community and local resources, the program leveraged relationships to deliver its message through local peer and neighborhood networks.

Developed by DOE's Building Technologies Program (BTP), BetterBuildings is a flagship program to improve the nation's energy efficiency. BTP works to save energy, reduce costs, and improve comfort for American homes, businesses, and institutions.

Learn more about BetterBuildings.