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Run a Program

Energy efficiency upgrade programs provide communities with many benefits. In addition to helping homeowners, businesses, and institutions save money by saving energy, these programs spur economic growth by supporting energy efficiency job expansion, and they can be instrumental in meeting clean energy goals. In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and other buildings through programs, such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, utility-sponsored programs, and others.

The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center—scheduled for release in October 2014—is an online repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these programs. The free, one-of-a-kind tool will help programs quickly adopt proven innovations, minimize trial and error, and achieve success throughout a program’s phases, including planning, implementation, management, and evaluation. Content topics include:

  • Business models
  • Program integration
  • Marketing and outreach
  • Contractor engagement
  • Workforce development
  • Financing
  • Evaluation and data collection

As a beta user, you can explore the Solution Center for yourself. Contact the Better Building Residential Program Solution Center team to sign up to become a beta user, or to learn about upcoming webinars. These webinars will demonstrate the Solution Center’s functionality and content, as well as how program administrators, implementers, and partners can use its resources to help design, implement, and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs. Find additional opportunities to sign up for Solution Center webinar demonstrations in upcoming issues of the Better Buildings Network View newsletter.

Please note the “Run a Program” section, as well its associated Web pages, are no longer actively maintained by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. This content, in addition to several more tips, examples, and tools, is being migrated to the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center.

This section provides step-by-step guidance on how to design and run residential energy efficiency upgrade programs to achieve these benefits?building on the successes, insights, and innovations of Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners.

Better Buildings and its program partners are supporting the development of a self-sustaining building upgrade market by addressing key challenges in the following areas:

  • Getting Started―By testing different business model options for transitioning to sustainable operations in the future.
  • Driving Demand―By giving consumers better access to reliable and compelling information about building upgrade options, and by demonstrating the benefits of home and commercial building improvements.
  • Financing―By addressing the high upfront costs and lack of financing options that have made energy upgrade projects unaffordable for many consumers.
  • Workforce Development―By helping to build a skilled workforce that can deliver high quality energy efficiency services.

Included here are guidance and downloadable tools and resources, most of which have been developed and road-tested by Better Buildings communities, that can be customized when developing new programs. In addition to the area-specific resources below, partners can review the Residential Retrofit Program Design Guide to explore the key elements of a successful residential upgrade program.

Getting Started

Driving Demand


Workforce Development

Understand business model options for sustainable operations and the basic steps to designing an energy saving building upgrade program in your community.

Better understand the perceptions of consumers in your area, spur consumer demand for building energy efficiency, and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices about energy efficiency upgrades.

Create incentives and financial products that help address building owners' concerns about the availability of affordable capital for energy efficiency upgrades.

Build a professional workforce of trained and certified building upgrade professionals to meet the needs of local building owners, and provide them with the confidence that energy efficiency evaluations and upgrades will be done at the highest level.

  1. Assess the market
  2. Establish goals and objectives
  3. Develop plans of action
  1. Set goals and objectives
  2. Create an evaluation plan
  3. Conduct audience research
  4. Identify target audience and behavior change
  5. Create effective messages
  6. Build partnerships
  7. Develop a marketing plan
  8. Implement your marketing plan
  9. Assess your progress
  1. Assess the market
  2. Define finance program objectives
  3. Identify and engage financial partners
  4. Design the financing program
    1. Credit enhancements
    2. Revolving loan funds
  5. Draft and evaluate RFPs
  6. Implement finance program incentives
  7. Determine loan marketing channels
  8. Evaluate program performance
  9. Revise programs and strategies
  10. Capture lessons learned
  1. Understand your community
  2. Determine how energy professionals fit into your program model
  3. Know your existing workforce
  4. Establish baseline quality workforce standards
  5. Ensure the workforce is trained, certified, and equipped
    1. Partner with existing training and education providers
    2. Help program contractors obtain the necessary equipment
  6. Make your workforce true partners
  7. Motivate your workforce for continuous improvement