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Title: Alabama SEP Final Technical Report

Executive Summary In the fall of 2010, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) launched the Multi-State Model for Catalyzing the National Home Energy Retrofit Market Project (Multi-State Project). This residential energy efficiency pilot program was a collaborative effort among the states of Alabama, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington, and was funded by competitive State Energy Program (SEP) awards through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The objective of this project was to catalyze the home energy efficiency retrofit market in select areas within the state of Alabama. To achieve this goal, the project addressed a variety of marketplace elements that did not exist, or were underdeveloped, at the outset of the effort. These included establishing minimum standards and credentials for marketplace suppliers, educating and engaging homeowners on the benefits of energy efficiency and addressing real or perceived financial barriers to investments in whole-home energy efficiency, among others. The anticipated effect of the activities would be increased market demand for retrofits, improved audit to retrofit conversion rates and growth in overall community understanding of energy efficiency. The four-state collaborative was created with the intent of accelerating market transformation by allowing each state to learn from their peers, each ofmore » whom possessed different starting points, resources, and strategies for achieving the overall objective. The four partner states engaged the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) to oversee a project steering committee and to manage the project evaluation for all four states. The steering committee, comprised of key program partners, met on a regular basis to provide overall project coordination, guidance, and progress assessment. While there were variances in program design among the states, there were several common elements: use of the Energy Performance Score (EPS) platform; an audit and home energy rating tool; emphasis on community based coordination and partnerships; marketing and outreach to increase homeowner participation; training for market actors; access to financing options including rebates, incentives, and loan products; and an in depth process evaluation to support continual program improvement and analysis. In Alabama, Nexus Energy Center operated energy efficiency retrofit programs in Huntsville and Birmingham. In the Huntsville community the AlabamaWISE program was available in five Alabama counties: Cullman, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, and Morgan. In Birmingham, the program was available to residents in Jefferson and Shelby Counties. In both communities, the program was similar in terms of program design but tailored marketing and partnerships to address the unique local conditions and population of each community. ADECA and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) provided overall project management services and common resources to the local program administrator Nexus Energy Center, including contracted services for contractor training, quality assurance testing, data collection and reporting, and compliance. The fundamental components of the AlabamaWISE program included a vertical contractor-based business model; comprehensive energy assessments; third-party quality assurance; rebates for installation of energy saving measures; accessible, low-interest financing; targeted and inbound marketing; Energy Performance Score (EPS) tool to engage and educate homeowners; training for auditors, contractors, and real estate professionals; and online resources for education and program enrollment. Program participants were eligible to receive rebates or financing toward the assessments and upgrades to their home provided they reached at least 20 percent deemed or modeled energy savings. The design of each program focused on addressing several known barriers including: limited homeowner knowledge on the benefits of energy efficiency, lack of financing options, lack of community support for energy efficiency programs, and lack of trained market actors including contractors and real estate professionals. The programs were able to make progress on addressing all of these barriers and were most successful in offering financing options and training market actors. The most challenging barriers proved to be the act of building a market for energy efficiency where none previously existed, convincing homeowners of the value in investing in energy efficiency (and therefore completing retrofits), engaging electric and natural gas utilities to partner on delivery, and achieving the overall project target of 1,365 completed retrofits. The components that proved to be the most valuable to program success were engaged contractor networks that could promote and endorse the program, partnerships with local business and organizations, and the access to rebates, incentives and financing mechanisms. The programs were successful in building relationships with a variety of community participants including: local contractors, Associations of REALTORS, home builders associations, universities, utilities, local and state governments, and other non-profit organizations. Throughout this program, 933 building audits and 795 building retrofits were completed making homes in Alabama more comfortable, less expensive to operate, more valuable to the marketplace, and safer and healthier for families. Continuing on this momentum, Nexus Energy Center plans to continue operating and expanding operations in Alabama as a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR sponsor and will continue to provide energy services and education to communities in Alabama.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Technical Report
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program (EE-2K)
Country of Publication:
United States