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The UtilityXpert Series Part 2: Sustainable Energy Efficiency Program Implementation

Posted By Nishaant Sangaavi, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

In this week’s UtilityXpert roundup, we chat with Brett Bishop of Build it Green , Build It Green (BIG), an environmental nonprofit based in Oakland, California with a mission to create a world of healthy and sustainable home for all people. They are pioneering how homes are built and renovated in California and beyond.

In this article, we’ll talk about Brett’s experience helping energy providers implement sustainable, effective EE programs. Brett has a wealth of experience and his passion really comes through when discussing some of the industry’s most challenge issues, including aggressive energy targets, as well as implementation tactics.

1 You've had a variety of experience designing and implementing all different types of EE programs. Tell us about your approach at the beginning to ensure a holistic plan is built.

We are passionate about bringing innovation to the market and inspired to support consumers, professionals, private companies, and public agencies to achieve the greatest impact. We mainly focus on three goals:

  • Driving deep reductions in carbon emissions by connecting more homes to clean power and advanced energy technologies

  • Creating a real estate market that recognizes the value of these homes and ensuring that these benefits are accessible and affordable to all communities

  • Creating healthy and sustainable homes for people in low-income communities.

All these approaches combine for a holistic plan because having these specific goals in mind makes it easier to achieve and track our successes in our various programs.

2 Tell us about the different nuances of implementing different programs in different communities?

It really comes down to knowing what the community we are trying to help needs from multiple perspectives. For instance for our Cool Savers program, the first Pay-for-Performance programs of its kind, we really wanted the focus on customers that want to save more energy! That’s what it’s structured to emphasize, that’s why participants become a stakeholder in the success of the program, and that’s why we added the Cool Rewards bonus system to the program, which allows participants to earn cash bonuses for being a deep energy saver.

(Cool Savers participants who save the most energy over a 12-month period are eligible for a bonus incentive up to $1,000.)

With our Healthy Home Connect program, we structured the program to leverage multiple funding sources to deliver energy and healthy home upgrades simultaneously to benefit California’s most vulnerable or disadvantaged communities, with both energy burden and regional air pollution being factored from the outset.

The Healthy Home Connect (HHC) program has successfully expanded into new communities, thanks to generous funding from our partners like Peninsula Clean Energy and private equities such as Facebook, Inc. BIG is delivering health and energy upgrades to families faced with hardships in the Belle Haven community, and Menlo Park near Facebook’s HQ. These homes would otherwise not benefit from existing energy efficiency programs because they needed much more basic repairs first. For example, one home had their entire ceiling removed in the hallway, completely open to the attic space, all year round! She was over eighty years old and clearly needed more than just LED light bulbs and faucet aerators. Typically, program administrators are unaware of such egregious conditions because there is no budget for measures outside of demand reduction or they choose not to get close to the work.

There is a strong link between health and energy efficiency in homes: energy upgrades often provide health co-benefits and we are working to unlock both of these benefits homeowners.

Housing services are often siloed and delivered to meet program performance metrics alone. Energy efficiency and weatherization programs do not address home health conditions, which are often closely related. Furthermore, many homes are disqualified from receiving energy efficiency and solar PV improvements because of existing conditions in the home, such as mould, moisture, unsafe HVAC systems leaking carbon monoxide, or dilapidated roofs.

The result is that some of the most vulnerable families are left behind and must live in homes that exacerbate asthma and other health conditions, as well as homes that are inefficient with high utility bills, contributing to displacement and the affordable housing crisis. Healthy Home Connect addresses these problems by combining public funding sources with private philanthropy and delivering health and energy efficiency together, intentionally. Exactly like everything else in the efficiency field, it demands a conscientious front side to each project and detailed project management.

BIG also worked closely with their local, like-minded, non-profit builder/partner El-Concilio of San Mateo, to establish relationships, trust within the community, and help fulfill the work and mission of the Program.

3 How do you approach getting buy-in for your recommendations at every step of the implementation process (ex. IT teams, DSM teams)?

The billion dollar question! Ultimately, it is about having the right team lined up around a future state. Which begins with the client, their objectives, and design constraints. Once these conditions have been identified and communicated market analysis drives the conversation. Build It Green is always conscientious to bring our workforce into this part of the design process; ultimately, if the market does not buy into your value proposition you are going to have a difficult time getting your program off the ground.

Once the interventions are established as to technologies and engagement platforms, the marketing team can begin designing a narrative that is relatable. As with any organization, having the right team on your side is key. Having a team that is aligned with the vision of the company’s core objectives results in an effort that communicates consistency across different departments and specializations. To steal a phrase from the sports world, it’s about “building your bench” which has to begin long before a project is even dreamed of.

4 California has lofty energy efficiency savings targets for 2030. How will it get there?

We have visions for 2030 that are aggressive, it's true, 2045 is even more so with a target for net carbon neutrality across our entire economy. It’s going to be a large effort with a lot of stakeholders and factors that are dynamic. One example that illustrates this well is California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, our grid is more and more decarbonized with every passing year, so energy storage and shifting consumption to times of the day when the sun is producing our power are a big part of shifting the economy away from dependence on fossil fuels.

Energy Efficiency is crucial to the effectiveness of these efforts because if consumption of energy is unchecked, then the cost to produce the energy tracks the demand curve. Think of it on a smaller scale, a house that is efficient may need twenty solar panels; the same home without efficiency measures may need thirty panels to achieve an energy bill of zero. Less is definitely more. One phrase I really enjoy it, “the cheapest electron is the one you don’t use.”

I think the biggest challenge is going to be psychological. People are attached to their habits and don’t necessarily perceive them as such. One example of this is induction cooking. The technology has far superior performance compared to gas. I love cooking a lot and eating good food even more! It took me a while to get to a place where I could install an induction rage because my home is older and was set up for gas, but once I got it done I found was that I had a much greater level of control over temperature and everything heats up dramatically faster. It’s super nice, easy to clean, it performs better, and doesn’t put exhaust into my kitchen. Going back would feel like making dinner in the garage with the door closed and the car running! But until consciousness around these shifts, people will be espoused to antiquated technology.

All that circles back to decarbonization because utilizing renewables effectively is dependent on multiple systems like space and water heating, cooking, laundry, etc. Efficiency allows us to do the same things as we were doing before, hopefully, better, while consuming fewer resources. That’s the value proposition we need to convey, “your quality of life will improve if you get with the program,” otherwise there’s no reason to do anything different than you did yesterday. The horse and carriage were replaced with the car, the landline replaced with cellular, we have superior and sustainable technologies today, so the question is not if, but how, and by when. That’s where California is rightly focusing today.

“We’d love to hit targets early, but even if we’re a little late, we’re still in much better shape than if we didn’t strive for it in the first place.”
— BRETT BISHOP, BUILD IT GREEN

Tags:  Cost reduction  customer engagement  Customer EngagementResidential Programs  Energy Efficiency  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow 

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Apogee Builds Solutions to Move Utilities from EE and DR to Electrification

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jim Albert CTO Interview from Apogee Interactive on Vimeo.

 Helping Utilities Turn Challenges into Opportunities

For Immediate Release:

Atlanta GA, September 13, 2018. The team at Apogee Interactive has identified several significant challenges facing utilities today. Apogee’s utility visionaries have combined their insight to the energy industry with client feedback to create new capabilities offered in their latest feature pack release set for September 25th.

Lead by Chief Software Architect, Joel Gilbert and Chief Technology Officer, Jim Albert, Apogee’s development team has focused on ways of effectively communicating the complicated topic of solar, net metering, new rate structures, and the impact of electric vehicles. Apogee is helping utilities move from energy efficiency and demand response towards customer engagement, operational efficiencies, and beneficial electrification.

For many years, outside of their whole-house cost and savings analyzer, Apogee has offered specialized tools for helping customers understand the cost impacts of solar, EVs, and various alternative electric rates.  But customers usually pay one bill and don’t think of these as separate issues.  This release wraps them all together and lets customers model whatever scenarios they are considering.

Gilbert explained, “Our solar module predicts the actual solar generation and add that back into the net metered results when analyzing the customers energy use.” Adding, “Whether they are looking at roof-top or community solar programs, customers can use our new release to get a realistic and un-biased estimate of solar production and cost impacts for their homes.”

Apogee has provided analysis for electric vehicles for many years, but this release is designed to help utilities promote electric vehicle adoption by showing realistic side-by-side savings predictions. The module will be included in the overall home energy analysis.

The big Feature Pack reveal is being presented in a series of webinars scheduled for September 25th and 27thWatch this short video with Jim Albert, to learn more.

About Apogee Interactive:

Apogee Interactive is the nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. Serving the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform is used by hundreds of North American utilities from coast to coast, including some of the largest and most progressive, such as Southern Company, Consolidated Edison, Lakeland Electric, and Jackson EMC. For more information visit www.apogee.net  or on LinkedIn.

 Media Contact: Karen Morris, 678-684-6801 or kmorris@apogee.net

 

 

  

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement  Electri  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  solar 

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ENERGY EFFICIENCY EXPERTS OF TOMORROW SCHOLARSHIP NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

Posted By Jamie Delk, Thursday, December 7, 2017

Franklin Energy is pleased to announce this year’s Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow scholarship program is now accepting applications. The leading national integrated demand side management program implementation firm’s scholarship is open November 16, 2017 and closes February 1, 2018.

As in previous years, the scholarship is open to all juniors and seniors who are currently enrolled at an accredited college or university with a declared major of either environmental science or engineering.

“Franklin Energy looks forward to the opportunity to support the next generation of demand side management experts,” said Kevin McDonough, Franklin Energy President. "These passionate students are crucial to the industry as they develop their skills and prepare to become the industry’s future.”

Four $5,000 scholarships will be rewarded to students selected by a non-biased third party panel. Students can find full requirements and application forms online.

Tags:  energy  Energy Efficiency  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  Engineer  environmental science  Franklin Energy  Franklin Energy Services  Franklin Energy Services LLC  University of Pittsburgh 

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FRANKLIN ENERGY AWARDS ENERGY EFFICIENCY EXPERTS OF TOMORROW SCHOLARSHIP

Posted By Jamie Delk, Tuesday, May 10, 2016

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis.– Franklin Energy Services, LLC, a leading national energy efficiency program implementation firm, is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the annual Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow scholarship. Awardees include Sage Lincoln (University of Pittsburgh) and Andrew Peterson (Iowa State University).

“This is the second year we’ve recognized future professionals through the Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow scholarship program,” said Paul Schueller, Franklin Energy chief executive officer. “The talent came out in full force – beyond our expectations. We’re proud to help keep these future experts motivated in all of their endeavors.”

Franklin Energy will be accepting 2017 submissions later this year. Applicants must currently be enrolled post-secondary juniors or seniors with a declared major in engineering or environmental science.

Recipients will be selected by a non-biased third party panel, with an opportunity to receive $5,000 towards their education. Franklin Energy congratulates all candidates who submitted applications and encourage future qualifying students to apply.

 

About Franklin Energy Services, LLC

With over two decades in the industry, Franklin Energy designs and implements energy efficiency programs for utility, state and municipality clients nationwide and into Canada. The firm pinpoints goal-focused solutions for its clients and their customers across residential, multifamily, small business and commercial/industrial markets. As home of Efficiency@Work, Franklin Energy integrates all customer interaction including online application processing and in-field data collection through its technology suite.  Franklin Energy recently acquired Resource Action Programs, a designer and implementer of education based programs and kits. www.franklinenergy.com

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Tags:  energy  Energy Efficiency  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  Franklin Energy  Franklin Energy Services  Franklin Energy Services LLC  Iowa  Iowa State  Philadelphia  Pittsburgh  Scholarship  University of Pittsburgh 

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Franklin Energy Announces Scholarship Recipients

Posted By Kim Burtraw, Monday, April 27, 2015

Franklin Energy Announces Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow Scholarship Recipients.

The company congratulates all candidates who submitted applications and encourage future qualifying students to apply.

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Tags:  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  Scholarship 

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