About Our Client
The company is a public utility providing electrical power to a large metropolitan area of the Pacific Northwest. They are dedicated to exceeding their customers’ expectations in producing and delivering environmentally responsible, safe, low-cost, and reliable power.
For a number of years, our client has been helping fund energy code work through a partnership with the city’s department of construction and inspection (DCI). Through the work of an energy code expert within the department, the energy code in the city itself was notably more progressive than in other large metropolitan areas. In fact, few cities in the country have such energy code experts tasked with advancing energy code. Although few cities in the country have such experts, cities and states can benefit from the efforts of these advisors, who push for stronger and more progressive energy codes. Our client wanted clear documentation of the process and qualitative evidence that this advocacy work was leading actual code adoption.
Our client engaged EMI Consulting to ensure long-term success of the working partnership and funding arrangement. Their primary goals were two-fold. First, to formally document the process through which their funding impacts energy code and code compliance; and second, to identify the strengths and challenges of the DCI’s code advancement for achieving the utility’s goals.
There were also a number of secondary objectives, such as assessing the market perception of the energy code program on the construction market, and identifying new potential avenues for the energy code moving forward.
EMI Consulting provided a qualitative assessment to gain a better understanding of the partnership and the people involved in each step, and we formally documented the process that goes into energy code development.
After first thoroughly reviewing background materials related to the code process, we developed a draft logic model reflecting the way the code process works. We shared these findings in a working session with the energy code expert and a subcontractor on our team, who served as a subject matter expert. In addition to this session, we held interviews with the staff from the DCI and the client to gain additional context and gather reactions to the logic model.
With all information synthesized, we developed a final logic model that captured how the code process works—each step, moving part, contributor, and the outcome it leads to. This document would provide clarity for anyone unfamiliar with how the process works.
With a finalized logic model in hand, we held in-depth interviews with external stakeholders in the energy code process to understand the impacts of the code expert’s work on energy code changes. Relevant external stakeholders were selected with input from all parties to provide balance from various parts of the community, including technology and design sectors, as well as city government and civic organizations.
The logic model and interview results allowed us to develop a dozen key findings, each aligned with recommendations aimed at helping our client maximize their relationship with the city’s DCI and their energy code expert to encourage code advancement and enforcement. For instance, one important finding noted that the utility was providing funding to the DCI to collect data that were not being used. Strengthening the relationship between the organizations would allow them to make sure the right data were being collected and being put to the best use.
With these key findings in hand, our client will be able to move many of these recommendations into action. In addition, by providing better clarity into the process, all parties can strive to increase their collaboration over time, each bringing their relative strengths to the relationship by sharing information and expertise for the advancement of energy efficiency through codes and other programs.