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Better Buildings fact sheets highlight top Peer Exchange Call takeaways

When it comes to energy-efficiency programs, each utility is in a different place: Looking for examples to help them get started, trying come up with a way to measure and improve the results of a first-time offering, figuring out how to take an established program to the next level and all the phases in between. Everyone could use a little help and the Better Buildings Residential Network (BBRN) is a good place to find it.

The Better Business Residential Network Peer Exchange Calls often focus on tips and strategies for choosing and working with contractors.

The Better Business Residential Network Peer Exchange Calls often focus on tips and strategies for choosing and working with contractors. (Photo by Better Building Residential Network)

Several times a year, members hold Peer Exchange Calls to compare experiences, analyze misfires, celebrate successes and discuss ways to increase the number of energy-efficient homes in America. As valuable as it would be for utility program managers to participate in this exchange, that is not the only way to benefit from it. BBRN publishes “greatest hits” fact sheets quarterly, summarizing the top takeaways from these calls. You can download this treasure trove of customer service and other tips from the BBRN website, or find Volumes 1 through 6 in the Energy Services fact sheet library.

We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to access these resources because they have so much to offer utilities. For example, here are just two takeaways from Vol. 6 of Lessons Learned:

  • Leverage HVAC upgrades to spark conversations about whole-home performance. Customers, who have put their trust in a contractor to complete their HVAC repair, might welcome the contractor’s expert efficiency advice.
  • Residential energy-efficiency customers have different backgrounds, needs, and motivations, which programs can use to tailor messages and services to different groups. EnergySavvy You are leaving WAPA.gov. uses cloud software to pair utility data with marketing data and create individual utility customer profiles to target energy efficiency messages.

The fact sheets includes links to full summaries of each call, complete with lists of participants and their locations, an agenda and presentations. Summaries to all past Peer Exchange Calls are archived at BBRN, in case you don’t want to wait for the quarterly fact sheets.

Of course, you can also find out what the leading practitioners of energy-efficient home improvements are talking about by participating in the Peer Exchange Calls. They are generally held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time and are free with registration. The Return of Residential PACE – the Sequel (201) You are leaving WAPA.gov. is the topic of the July 21 call.

Source: DOE EERE Better Buildings Residential Network, 6/21/16

New Better Buildings toolkit dives into training techniques

Utilities often struggle to educate contractors, staff and volunteers on building science; sales and marketing; program offerings and business development. To help residential energy-efficiency program managers plan technical, outreach and professional training, the Department of Energy Better Buildings Residential Network recently launched a Training Toolkit.

Eden Housing affordable housing developer in Alameda County, California, has partnered with the Better Building Initiative to reduce the energy intensity of its properties by 20 percent. Reduced energy intensity results in lower utility bills for tenants and building owners. (Photo by Eden Housing)

Eden Housing affordable housing developer in Alameda County, California, has partnered with the Better Building Initiative to reduce the energy intensity of its properties by 20 percent. Reduced energy intensity results in lower utility bills for tenants and building owners. (Photo by Eden Housing)

This toolkit—the fourth Residential Network Voluntary Member Initiative—includes tips, resources and examples to help you realize the value of providing training opportunities for contractors, staff and volunteers. A study of more than 140 energy-efficiency programs across the country found that contractor training activities led to more comprehensive upgrades, a higher assessment-to-upgrade conversion rate, improved program processes, improved quality control and increased revenues, among other benefits.

To achieve such results, program staff, volunteers and contractors must have a thorough understanding of building science; sales and marketing; residential energy efficiency program offerings and business development. In the Training Toolkit, program managers will discover training resources and opportunities, compiled and reviewed by Better Buildings Residential Network members, to build that expertise in-house.

The toolkit provides resources on three types of training:

  1. Technical training – Covering building science, energy assessments, technologies and techniques
  2. Outreach training – Covering promotion of program offerings, sales training and customer engagement
  3. Professional training – Covering business development and management for participating contractors

Additional resources at the end of the toolkit include more details on the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center. This online collection of resources and lessons learned concerning training and other topics is based on years of on-the-job experience in residential energy-efficiency programs.

Get involved
The Better Buildings Residential Network connects energy-efficiency programs and partners to share best practices and learn from one another to increase the number of energy-efficient homes. Several Western customers, including the cities of Fort Collins, ColoradoYou are leaving WAPA.gov. and Palo Alto, CaliforniaYou are leaving WAPA.gov. participate in the initiative.

Members of the Residential Network join with other energy-efficiency programs and partners to identify and address common challenges and market opportunities through voluntary initiatives that result in the development of new tools and resources. Your feedback concerning this toolkit and your training efforts help the network improve its resources and identify new issues.

Contact the Residential Network for more information about joining or participating in the next voluntary initiative.

Source: DOE Better Buildings Initiative, 3/25/16