You’ve just started a new energy efficiency program evaluation. What do you do? Well, after all of the paperwork and meetings, you sit down to write your evaluation plan. After some experience with the programs and evaluation, you know most of the key considerations. Hopefully, you’ve discussed goals and objectives for the evaluation with the client. As part of your due diligence, you check the most recent evaluations in the field for similar programs to ensure that your work stays on the cutting edge and incorporates the most appropriate practices (to the extent that they are evident). All good.
We, in energy efficiency program evaluation have not had a common repository of evaluations (although NEEP’s EM&V Forum Library and CALMAC have been essential resources to fill this void. There are as many methods for some types of programs as there are evaluators. In the past few years, there has been some movement towards documenting the methods that are appearing successful in the field – an effort that benefits both the evaluators (yay, us!) and the evaluated (yay, clients!). For example, there is the “Model Energy Efficiency Impact Evaluation Guide” – just updated. There is also a more interactive, open process, sponsored by DOE called the Uniform Methods Project.
Excited yet? Go ahead and click on over to the Uniform Methods Project Forum. You will end up here:
From there, you can click on Complete Protocols and download a PDF of the protocols as they were drafted in August of 2012. Or, you can click on specific sections (or the archive at the bottom) to get right to the draft appropriate for your work. Each protocol describes the methodology for what is considered a “model” practice by someone who has years of experience in this field. Most also describe options for when the “model” practice is not cost-effective or impractical for other reasons. Newer drafts are available for comments – check those out in the Sector specific areas. You will have to register before you can comment; registration takes less than 1 minute.
Be vocal if you have suggestions to improve the methods that are suggested in these protocols. We are a community of evaluators of energy efficiency programs. Improvements to research methods helps the entire field provide better service to our clients.
Update (Jan 11): Micheals Energy Blog::Energy Rant on the Hamburger Helper approach to evaluation motivated me to add this note. We, as evaluators, are responsible for remembering that each program and client has unique needs and concerns. The “model” practice can present an absurd approach if the parameters are not well met. We can take these protocols as a snapshot of where the field is, and use our judgment to design the appropriate evaluation.