Energy Efficiency Doesn’t Sell, But It Can

Over the last two years my company has had the privilege of talking with hundreds of building owners, managers, and project stakeholders through the Noesis community about energy efficiency in their facilities. Primarily we were looking to understand how they perceived their energy usage and if/how they could be helped to achieve greater efficiency. In parallel, we were hoping to learn the reasons why they weren’t doing energy efficiency projects, especially in a time when the economics seem so strong.


Over the course of our dialog with our community members we found common themes around the challenges that face the building owner:

  • “I believe that there are energy savings that can be achieved within my buildings. But the path to get there is more complicated that I would like.”
  • “I can’t buy energy efficiency. I have to buy products and services and hope that the savings materialized as a result.”
  • “I am not an engineer. This means when it comes to making building infrastructure investments, I don’t have a deep understanding of all the unconnected pieces of the system and therefore, I am going to need to reach a certain level of comfort before making a decision.”
  • “A data dump from an audit report does not help me get any closer to making a decision – there is a reason these often end up collecting dust.”

Building a Tailored Solution:

We analyzed these challenges and looked for ways to help get passed them. We looked for solutions that would be make the most impact and make the process of taking on energy efficiency easier.  We tested these ideas with them to determine what a solution would look like.

Again, a trend began to emerge. Here’s what we heard from these conversations as the right way to address the challenges:

  • “I don’t need a list of 100 things that I could do to improve my building’s energy usage.”
  • “I need a short list of the things that I must do that will get me the most gains for my investment.”
  • “I need data – help reassure me that these projects are going to work. Prove to me that these efficiency improvements have been done before at buildings like mine.”
  • “Give me options – I may want to fund these projects, I may want to finance them. Help me understand and compare these options.“
  • “Bonus points – find a way to decrease my level of uncertainty throughout the process. I love hearing that your analysis is standards based but I don’t need more linear regressions.”

In short, make it easy for the stakeholder to determine what options are going to provide the most bang for the buck, increase the level of trust in the recommendations, and give me options on how to pay for the project.

When you put it like that, it almost seems simple. 

Delivering data and insights are the starting point for evaluating any energy efficiency effort. However, if you can’t focus the options on the most impactful and build trust by providing insights into past efforts, more often than not, the project isn’t going to happen.

Without a path to action, it doesn’t matter how attractive the opportunity is, there are too many barriers that will get in they way that are going to prevent the energy efficiency project from getting done.

Josh Duncan is vice president, product management, for Noesis. He has been building and managing software products for more than 16 years. Josh has held product leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies such as Bank of America and Dell and at growing technology start-ups. Prior to Noesis, Josh was director of product marketing at Zenoss, one of the fastest growing Inc 500 startups in 2010 and 2011. Josh began his career as a technology consultant at Andersen Consulting (now called Accenture) working on some of the first online eCommerce products. Josh graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Material Science Engineering and received an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management.

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