February 1st, 2010

Building Efficiency will be BIGGER than Solar in Mass – Part 2

BOSTON -

Last week, I wrote about how Building Efficiency will be BIGGER than the Solar Industry in Massachusetts, this is a follow up to my original post.

With huge money flowing through ‘Cash for Caulkers’ (or HomeStar), Massachusetts DOER, and the utility companies to promote building efficiency, we should have a huge reduction in energy consumption and lots of new jobs soon, right?  Right?

Maybe.

Phil Giudice, Commissioner of MA DOER said that policy makers on the state and federal level are worried about the scalability of this massive national effort.  As he put it, “there is a tremendous amount of building science that goes into basic weatherization projects.”  It takes years to develop the craftsmanship and skill it takes to become a great building performance contractor.  There are a finite number of people qualified to do this work, and right now that number isn’t big enough.

But it’s not just the contractors.  Homeowners and building owners need to be motivated to participate.  The early adopters have already raised their hands – now we’re trying to convert the masses and it’s going to take a herculean effort to educate this enormous group.

So here are the two questions everyone is dying to answer:

  1. How do we motivate building owners (both residential & commercial) to invest their time and energy into making their building more efficient?
  2. How can we make sure the money we spend on building efficiency pays off?

I’d love to hear thoughtful responses to these questions…

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Brian Hayden

About Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden founded HeatSpring Learning Institute in 2007. He's an accredited geothermal installer and creates technical training programs on geothermal and solar systems. HeatSpring has been featured in Business Week's "America's Top 25 Promising Social Entrepreneurs"

  • Chris Yates

    Since just reducing long term cost seems to be insufficient motivation in our current economic culture, other incentives would be necessary. A carbon tax seems appropriate but would have no chance to pass all but the most progressive legislature. So tax break incentives are the most immediate motivators for business and home owners.
    However, grants for community based groups that assist economically challenged households to retrofit energy efficiency measures could be enabling. Community organizations – like churches, rotary, youth organizations – might also be recruited to begin nurturing energy efficiency awareness and possibly create some peer pressure on more economically able parishioners/members. I can envision an energy audit and implementation merit badge.
    Due to the limited number of qualified personnel, these experts might be better utilized if they led community groups, hands-on seminars and gave classes, sowing the experience as broadly as possible, especially targeting the most cost effective strategies.
    Another possible scenario would be like the conservation corps of the 1930's. Use the expertise we have on hand to train and lead the conservation corp made up of unemployed and other interested individuals to go out there and upgrade at reduced or no costs. Start with lower income and small businesses, these maybe some of the people most in need and be in buildings with the most need of retrofit.

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  • http://twitter.com/alexpatriquin Alex Patriquin

    Hey Brian,

    This is something I've been keeping my eye on for a little while. Wattzy (http://www.wattzy.com), my company, will be motivating residential building owners (and renters) to embrace energy efficiency through online collaboration and competition.

    We're launching next week. If anyone would like an invitation to Wattzy, please email me at alex at wattzy dot com.

    Thanks,

    Alex

  • http://www.thegreenlightdistrikt.com Chris Williams

    Chris, you bring up some interesting points. Its funny that you mentioned bring in community organizations. A couple weeks ago I recorded a conversation at Green Drinks of Chuck Levin of New Generation Energy where he talked about what was and was not working in energy efficiency and he mentions using these groups. You can see part 1 here: http://thegreenlightdistrikt.com/2010/01/12/vid… and part two here: http://thegreenlightdistrikt.com/2010/01/18/vid…

    I also like the idea of the conservation corps. There is so much work and education that's needed. If the government would pay existing experts MORE to teach others then to perform audits the information would flow much faster. What do you think about this idea?

    Alex,

    I like the idea, there are many concepts such as Wattzy coming on line. Have you heard of energy savvy? Also there's a local company called Green Guild that is developing an IT product for energy auditors to make their job easier. As your Boston based, I'd love to profile you when you launch?

  • http://twitter.com/Brian_HtSpring Brian Hayden

    The Green Guild did a 'tupperware party' style energy audit at my house and I invited all of my friends and neighbors to participate. It was a fun way to bring people together, spread a lot of quality information, and give people a reason to engage in the conversation (plus, I got my audit for free). Churches and other community organizations are built-in networks that represent an existing infrastructure for this kind of thing. They're definitely key players.

    I love the conservation corps idea too. Maybe HEET, and other similar groups could be the model for how to roll that out?

  • http://twitter.com/Brian_HtSpring Brian Hayden

    The Green Guild did a 'tupperware party' style energy audit at my house and I invited all of my friends and neighbors to participate. It was a fun way to bring people together, spread a lot of quality information, and give people a reason to engage in the conversation (plus, I got my audit for free). Churches and other community organizations are built-in networks that represent an existing infrastructure for this kind of thing. They're definitely key players.

    I love the conservation corps idea too. Maybe HEET, and other similar groups could be the model for how to roll that out?

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