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Certificate of Excellence – Foundations of Impact Evaluation


In cooperation with the United States Department of Energy, AESP Institute is proud to launch an in-depth training program on DSM program impact evaluation.  Upon completion of all necessary coursework and meeting other requirements, participants will receive AESP’s “Certificate of Excellence – Foundations of Impact Evaluation.”

Target Audience

The Certificate of Excellence - Foundations of Impact Evaluation Course is designed with new evaluation staff in mind, those with less than 3 years’ experience in the energy industry. Its alternatives are a formal in-house training program, or more commonly “learning-on-the-job” where a supervisor or colleague guides new staff over several months or years.

Ideal candidates for this program include new staff entering a research and evaluation function in DSM consultancies, consultancies that specialize in research and evaluation, government, state and regional energy organizations and large utilities with in-house evaluation needs (National Grid, etc.).


This course will be delivered in two parts:

Course 1:
Delivered online. Self-paced. The online course takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete and will be made available 6 weeks prior to the in-person training.

Course 2 and group project:
Course participants will meet in-person for 2 days in a city and date that will have been pre-determined before the start of the course. Here they will attend live lectures to complete Course 2, then work collaboratively with a team to complete a group project.


Online Course 1 & In-Person Course 2:

Member Price: $699 USD, or (4) Group Member points
Non-Member Price: $899 USD


Online Course 1 only:

Member Price: $275 USD, or (1) Group Member point
Non-Member Price: $325 USD

Click here to purchase the online course

2020 Cohorts:

Note: The October 26-27, 2020 cohort is postponed till further notice.


Click here for other training opportunities

Course Outline

The Foundations of Impact Evaluation Certificate course covers the basics of the energy industry and demand-side management industry, before diving into the principles of program impact evaluation.

In this cohort-based program, participants enroll at the same time as their peers and experience the learning journey together (communicating via an online discussion board and eventually meeting in person), culminating in a final project which they complete as a team. To earn the certificate you must complete both courses and the group project.

  1. EE Programs
    • EE programs, their basic purpose, components, and functioning
    • History of EE programs and why EE programs were originally created
    • Basics of the utility business including load profiles, obligation to serve, load duration curves, load factors, rudimentary rate making (which includes differentiation between fixed and variable costs)
    • Different types of EE and DER programs and purposes of each, savings taxonomy (e.g. portfolios, programs, projects, measures)
    • Compare demand-side and supply-side resources, IRPs, and common cost-effectiveness assessments (e.g. California Standard Practice Manual and National Standard Practice Manual)
    • Types of customers and participants (i.e., various utility sectors and their customer characteristics)
    • Players within the EE program sphere and the political realities of each
    • Types of regulatory bodies and how they interact with EE programs


  2. Program Evaluation in General
    • Foundations of program evaluation e.g. standards, guidelines, principles, competencies, approaches, and theories.   
    • Key program evaluation concepts e.g. evaluability, impacts, processes, worth, etc.
    • How evaluation and EE programs interact; how evaluation timing may affect a program
    • The different goals of evaluation
    • Types of evaluation associated with EE/Demand Response/Distributed Energy Resource programs e.g. impact, process
    • Evaluation standards/guidelines e.g. the JCSEE standards and the AEA guidelines
    • Roles and relationships of the evaluator in the program design/implementation/evaluation cycle, in regard to regulators and program administrators
    • What is included in evaluation frameworks


  3. EE Impact Evaluation
    • Methodology that grounds inquiry in program evaluation practice   
    • Key EE impact evaluation terms such as effective useful life, net and gross energy, and non-energy impacts
    • Various impact designs, when to apply them, and tools of each e.g. quasi-experimental, experimental designs
    • Counterfactual, and how baselines are related to the counterfactual
    • EE evaluation resources e.g. SEE Action publications, Technical Reference Manuals (TRMs), etc.
    • Relationships and differences between impact evaluations and cost effectiveness evaluations, process evaluations, or market evaluations


  4. Key Impact Evaluation Methods and Tasks
    • Appropriate methods, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods (to the extent practical, absent significant professional experience)
    • How to plan an impact evaluation and the tasks that must occur prior to choosing or implementing any impact method e.g. research goals, questions, etc.
    • How a sampling frame can affect an impact evaluation
    • Different types of impact evaluation approaches/methods along with their uses, strengths, limitations, risks, and relative costs
    • Important tasks within four key impact methods
    • Complications that may arise during each task of estimating energy savings
    • Savings persistence and savings interactions
    • Relationship between evaluation costs, accuracy, and timeliness
    • Relative precision, absolute precision, and accuracy, as well as the differences in each


  5. Framing the Evaluation  
    • Appropriate evaluation purposes
    • Evaluation questions
    • How evaluation goals and research questions support choice of impact method(s)
    • What a report should include and how to structure a report depending on the audience
    • How to write about sampling and non-sampling errors within a report

Group Project

The AESP Foundations of Impact Evaluation group project directly reinforces the information learned in the training and requires individuals to apply these skills to a real-world professional scenario. It is worked on collaboratively as a team and must be completed to receive the Foundation of Impact Evaluation certificate.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Understand the demand side management industry, including its basic purpose, components, and function.
  • Identify the purpose of evaluation, measurement and verification.
  • Understand and apply foundational program impact evaluation knowledge that grounds and guides professional practice.
  • Identify and define program impact evaluation methodology terms.
  • Demonstrate the ability to frame impact evaluation questions.
  • Determine appropriate impact evaluation methods, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.


CEU credits will be awarded upon completion of the course requirements.

Course 1 (Online): 0.4 CEUs
Course 2 (In-person): 0.7 CEUs
Total: 1.1 CEUs

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