Posted April 21st 2011 at 10:41 pm by
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Community Innovations in Energy Efficiency

On Friday, on April 29th from noon to 3pm, I will be co-hosting a public symposium on Community-Based Innovation in Energy Efficiency.  This symposium marks the end of the academic year for the Energy Efficiency Strategy Project, a collaborative research initiative led by MIT Lecturer Harvey Michaels.  The project, now in its third year, brings together students, professors, and professionals to develop and promote innovations in urban energy efficiency.  Please join us for a few structured conversations about the following topics:

12:15 – 1:00 : Partnering with Communities to Scale Up Residential Efficiency

Erin Brandt – Differentiating Between Community Efficiency Programs in Massachusetts

Rob Crauderueff – Department of Energy, Better Buildings, and Greensboro, NC

Stephanie Stern – The Community Energy Services Model in Minneapolis, MN

Amy Stitely – Maintaining Mass Momentum: Life after the Stimulus

1:15 – 2:00 : Information- and Data- Driven Targeting and Programs

Elena Alschuler and Kat Donnelly – Information-Driven Behavior Change in Charlotte, NC

Kate Goldstein – Quantitative Infrared Thermography for Large-Scale Targeting

Jeff Mekler – Democratizing Efficiency Delivery Through Disclosure

Lindsay Reul – Massachusetts Green Communities Program for Municipal Buildings

2:15 – 3:00: Equity, Jobs, and Mass Mobilization

Pat Coleman – Increasing Program Access for Renters

Ryan Hammond – Emerging Occupations in Energy Efficiency

Christopher Jones – Greening Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Brendan McEwen and Rosie Sherman – Developing an Engagement Plan for Dorchester, MA

Marcus Rozbitsky – Reaching Moderate Income Families

Brittany Zwicker – Adopting the IECC 2009 Energy Code in Kentucky

A Personal Reflection

For the past nine months, symposium participants have been lunching regularly to share lessons, refine questions, and challenge assumptions.  We are a mixed group of data crunchers, designers, community organizers, behavioral scientists, policy wonks, and techies, and each of us approaches energy efficiency with a different primary interest.  CoLab‘s primary interest is in how energy efficiency can act as a lever for building a more democratic and equitable society.

We entered this space when the stimulus was announced.  In 2009, we didn’t know much about efficiency, but we believed that there was a surging future in the green economy and that energy efficiency was the first wave to ride.  And so we met with our elected officials, engaged our networks, built new partnerships, signed MOUs, negotiated benefits, cobbled together scraps of funding, and jumped into the froth.

Two years later, after much hand-shaking, door-knocking, conference-calling, head-scratching, kick-off events, and data-crunching, we know much more than we did back when this was just a ‘big idea.’  We’ve learned a lot from this mobilization.  If we were able to launch another round of community efficiency programs, they would undoubtedly outperform the first batch of stimulus-funded pilots, for this time, we would know what parts of the machine to grease.  However, looking ahead to a reality of severely contracted state and city budgets and another election season, many of us are wondering, “What next?”

  • Will the market forces pick up where the stimulus left off?
  • Will utilities rise to meet the unmet demand?
  • Will the state flex its regulatory power?
  • Will our community partners remain at the table?
  • Is the window still open?  Are we riding the right wave?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.  We’ll address them in more depth at the April 29th symposium, which is free and open to the public.

Post by Amy Stitely, U.S. Green Hub Program Director at CoLab.  Amy is the research coordinator for the MIT Energy Efficiency Strategy Project.


2 responses to “Community Innovations in Energy Efficiency”

  1. John Bolduc says:

    Amy, This symposium looks very interesting. Unfortunately, I’m out of town this Friday. I’m hoping Meghan Shaw from the Cambridge Energy Alliance will be able to attend. It would be great if we could discuss at some point opportunities to involve you in Cambridge.

  2. Amy Stitely says:

    Hi John. Interesting. Just today, I was just talking about the CEA and brainstorming on how to better connect. If I don’t meet Meghan on Friday, then I will followup with you directly. Thanks for reading and commenting.