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Resource Directory

The guidance documents and reports below have been used by Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners to build their programs and guide them to early successes. The tools and calculators can be used by homeowners, business owners, and program designers to help determine energy savings and other benefits associated with energy efficiency upgrades.

Guidance Documents and Reports
    Background
    Program Evaluation
    Program Design
    Marketing and Driving Demand
    Financing and Incentives
    Workforce Development
    Partnering with Utilities
    Technical Resources

Tools and Calculators
    For Homes
    For Commercial Buildings
    Emissions and Equivalency Calculators

Guidance Documents and Reports

Background
  • Recovery Through Retrofit Report
    Released by Vice President Biden, the Middle Class Taskforce, and the Council on Environmental Quality in October 2009, this report identifies three key barriers (access to reliable information on home energy upgrades; access to affordable financing; and access to a skilled energy upgrade workforce) that have prevented a national market for home retrofits from growing, and presents recommendations to overcome these barriers.
  • Business Models Guide

    The Better Buildings Neighborhood Program Business Models Guide serves as a resource for Better Buildings grant recipients, program administrators, and building contractors who are or may be interested in expanding their services into the residential energy efficiency market.

Program Evaluation
  • Preliminary Energy Savings Impact Evaluation: Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (November 2013)
    This document presents the findings from the preliminary impact evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program's 41 grant partners across the country. Prepared by Research Into Action and others in partial fulfillment of a contract with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, it conducts a comprehensive program assessment of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program.
    See also: Webcast Presentation.
  • Preliminary Process and Market Evaluation: Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (December 2012)
    The U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program's 41 grant partners are serving hundreds of communities across the country using a variety of program designs and innovative approaches to deliver energy efficiency upgrades. This report, prepared by Research Into Action and NMR Group Inc., presents the preliminary process and market evaluation of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. As part of the evaluation, the report identifies the factors most strongly correlated with the 10 most successful grantees' performance and offers recommendations to the Energy Department and grant recipients for the final program year.
    See also: Report Appendices, Webcast Presentation.
Program Design
  • Better Buildings Residential Program Energy Efficiency Cost-Effectiveness Tool (Beta Version)
    In February 2014, DOE released the beta version of a user-friendly tool that estimates the cost-effectiveness of a residential energy efficiency program based on a program administrator’s inputs. Public utility commissions, and therefore utilities, use cost-effectiveness tests as one screen for determining funding decisions. Program designers, policy makers, utilities, architects, and engineers might also find the tool useful for refining, enhancing, or supporting residential energy efficiency programs.
  • Residential Retrofit Program Design Guide
    Developed by the Technical Assistance Program (TAP), this guide focuses on the key elements of building and maintaining a successful residential upgrade program. From assessing local opportunities and planning program goals to implementing a pilot and evaluating a program, Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners can use this 43-page guide to explore the design characteristics of their new and existing energy efficiency upgrade programs.
Marketing and Driving Demand
  • Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements
    This groundbreaking report reveals how to motivate consumers to complete energy efficiency upgrades in their homes and businesses. The report explores the practical tips required to attract, engage, and motivate consumers to make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes—And How to Ensure They Won't Happen to Yours
    Author Andy Goodman, a consultant helping foundations and progressive businesses reach people more effectively, outlines seven print advertising principles behind successful outreach campaigns, including new data from a 10-year Roper ASW study. From writing intriguing headlines to making emotional connections, learn how to increase public interest in your energy efficiency program.
Financing and Incentives
Workforce Development
  • DOE Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed voluntary national retrofit guidelines to foster the growth of a high-quality residential energy efficiency upgrade industry and a skilled and credentialed workforce.
Partnering with Utilities

These DOE Technical Assistance Program webcasts feature guidance on how to develop a reporting plan in collaboration with a utility, how to build and maintain successful utility-local government partnerships based on experience from programs across the country, and how to meet mutual needs to build and enhance energy efficiency programs:

  • Guidelines for Retrieving Customer Usage Data from Utilities, December 2010
    (PDF 1.23 MB) (WMV 62 MB)
  • Partnering with Utilities Part 1 - Successful Partnerships and Lessons from the Field, September 2011
    (PDF 500 KB) (WMV 68 MB) (Text)
  • Partnering with Utilities Part 2 - Advanced Topics for Local Governments in Creating Successful Partnerships with Utilities to Deliver Energy Efficiency Programs, November 2011
    (PDF 2 MB) (WMV 65 MB) (Text)

Also see:

Technical Resources
  • Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center (coming in 2014)
    In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and other buildings. This tool is an online repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these efforts. It is intended to help energy efficiency program teams and their partners plan, implement, manage, and evaluate residential energy upgrade programs. Download the presentation demonstrating this new tool. If you are interested in becoming a beta user or peer reviewer to test the website and review its content during the final phase of testing, please email us.
  • Building America – Resources for Energy Efficient Homes
    Library of resources on many energy performance techniques and technologies for a range of needs (e.g., historic homes, cold climates).
  • Energy Savers
    Comprehensive website with information on saving energy and using renewable energy.
  • EPA's State and Local Climate and Energy Program
    Provides technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments related to clean energy policies and initiatives, including building energy efficiency. The program has developed several local strategy guides that provide an overview of project benefits, policy mechanisms, investments, key stakeholders, and other implementation considerations. Examples and case studies highlighting achievable results from programs implemented in communities across the United States are also incorporated. Local Strategy Guides related to building energy efficiency include:

Tools and Calculators

For Homes
For Commercial Buildings
Emissions and Equivalency Calculators
  • Co-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Screening Model
    A tool that estimates the air quality, human health, and related economic co-benefits (such as energy efficiency) of initiatives that reduce air emissions.
  • Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID)
    A tool that provides data on the environmental characteristics of almost all electric power generated in the United States, which can be used to estimate the emissions benefits of reducing energy consumption.
  • EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
    A calculator that converts greenhouse gas emissions into everyday equivalencies. It can be used to help clearly communicate information about energy savings initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • EPA Power Profiler
    A tool that provides information on the air emissions attributable to the electricity used in a home or business during one year, along with a description of what these numbers mean in everyday terms and information on how to be more energy efficient or buy green power.