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DOE issues candid evaluation of Better Buildings Program
Natural Resources Defense Council blog highlights energy efficiency lessons learned from DOE's Better Buildings Program

By Brianna Crandall, September 30, 2015—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a detailed "warts-and-all" evaluation of its $500 million stimulus-funded Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP), according to a blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The Better Buildings Neighborhood Program is an innovative initiative to explore the potential for new marketing strategies and program designs to encourage building energy upgrades that result in significant energy savings and economic stimulus.

The six-volume report shows that comprehensive efficiency programs can be successful if they overcome the reluctance of building owners and others whose participation is needed at the local level.

The NRDG blog highlighted several "very candid" takeaways in the evaluation, including:

  • Significantly improving the efficiency of America's existing buildings, primarily residential homes and apartments in this study, will take time because "comprehensive" upgrades that include multiple efficiency measures in one go are not an easy sell for many building owners.

  • Government incentives will likely be needed on a continuing basis due to the complexity of these programs, the need for educating building owners, and the importance of contractor skills training to provide these services.

  • Successful programs require local buy-in and support, and perform better when there are staff involved with long-term experience with energy efficiency.

  • Improving America's existing buildings, resulting in lower energy bills and a more livable planet, is imminently doable provided there is enough enthusiasm, money, and patience by all the partners involved.

To learn more, see the NRDC blog posted by senior scientist Merrian Borgeson, and the DOE's Accomplishments Web page, which tells about program partners' accomplishments and offers evaluation reports and case studies.

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