- Private sector outreach programs are a way for local governments to encourage energy efficiency throughout their community.
- A successful energy efficiency outreach program combines a clear vision, effective communication, compelling incentives, and productive partnerships.
- Many Texas communities including El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin developed helpful resources as part of their private sector energy efficiency outreach programs.
Untapped Potential of Private Sector Outreach Programs
Best Practices to Engage Local Businesses
- Clear Vision: Decide what specific outcomes your local government would like to achieve with your private sector engagement program. Is the goal to celebrate business who already show leadership in energy efficiency or increase energy savings from a current baseline? Work with your target audience to help define what the program hopes to accomplish.
- Effective Communication: Invest time in developing branding and messaging that is recognizable, appealing, and compelling to participants. Program logos, flyers, websites, social media campaigns, or other communication tools should be perceived as professional, modern, and well-designed. Focus your messaging on what is important to your target audience. Highlight cost savings and waste reduction from energy efficiency initiatives as well as the potential competitive advantage and marketing benefits of sustainability.
Review the Communicating the Value of Energy Efficiency module of the City Efficiency Toolkit for more guidance on effective communication.
- Meaningful Incentives: Provide recognition and celebrate local success. Press releases, awards, networking events, and co-branding opportunities can provide value to participating companies and encourage them to participate.
- Productive Partnerships: Coordinate your efforts with existing partners or groups trusted by your target businesses. Rather than reaching out to one business at a time, leverage resources such as your local utility company, councils of government, or business groups to share information with interested parties.
ACEEE - Reducing Energy Waste through Municipally Led Behavior Change Programs
The report recommends the following steps for the design and implementation of behavior change outreach programs.
- Choose a goal and target behaviors to change.
- Conduct preliminary research.
- Choose a behavioral strategy.
- Design effective materials.
- Implement on a small scale.
- Evaluate program outcomes.
- Improve and scale up.
Ready the full ACEEE report Reducing Energy Waste through Municipally Led Behavior Change Programs for more details.
El Paso's Resilience Ambassador Program
El Paso organized workdays where graduates of the training installed these measures in select local businesses – including a restaurant and a homeless shelter. Participating businesses received the energy and water conservation upgrades free of charge and volunteers received training they could put on their resumes for the future.
Read the full El Paso Resilience Ambassadors case study.
Fort Worth's Better buildings Challenge
When private sector partners join the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge by committing to 20% energy efficiency and water reduction goals, they receive support including a free water audit, benchmarking assistance, guidance on potential efficiency projects, and opportunities for public recognition. Service providers can participate in the program by becoming a program ally and provide resources and guidance to partners to help them achieve the savings goals.
The Better Buildings website provides further details on Fort Worth’s model and tools developed to support partners including:
- The introductory letter participants receive from the Mayor and City Manager
- A voluntary agreement form that partners and allies sign
- The resolution adopted by City Council which authorized the initiative
- A Benchmarking tutorial for partners
Houston Green Office Challenge
The City of Houston’s Green Office Challenge (HGOC) engaged two segments – commercial office tenants and property owners/managers. Office tenants are often left out of energy efficiency retrofits since the landlord controls large energy using equipment but building occupants can control up to 80% of energy use in commercial buildings. Houston’s Green Office challenge engaged these segments through an interactive online dashboard, and the city provided training, events, and resources to help participants achieve their savings goals.
Although the challenge ended in 2016 the Better Buildings website houses further details on the Houston Green Office Challenge and helpful tools developed to support partners including:
- A tenant scorecard with strategies to engage office staff in five categories: energy, outreach, transportation, waste, and innovation.
- Best practices on how to form a city green team
- Case studies and a sample energy assessment from HGOC participants
Austin Green Business Leaders
A Green Business Resources document provides detailed resources for each AGBL credit including:
- Shortcuts to request speakers from City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, water, waste, and energy
- Tools to calculate your business’ carbon footprint
- Resources for free waste assessments
Need additional assistance? SPEER provides LED street lighting technical assistance to local governments. Contact SPEER and we can help you begin your LED retrofit project.