Michigan Saves commits to targeting two new large employer organizations over the course of two years to deploy an organizationally-based outreach program to drive demand in energy efficiency improvements, building on the model implemented at Grand Valley State University. This model will use pre-existing credible messengers and internal marketing resources of employers to offer reduced fee whole-home energy assessments and affordable loans to employees, as a benefit, and as part of the employer's sustainability commitment. Partnerships will be made with utilities, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations to support program implementation. A key factor in this approach is to utilize recognizable staff as case studies, to reinforce the value and legitimacy of the offer.
Contractor partners will offer reduced price whole home energy assessments, and regionally-based nonprofit organizations will be engaged to drive marketing and outreach to provide program management and to support contractor scheduling and oversight. The program will include support from employer-based credit unions to offer special interest rates to participants and support from employers to help fund marketing and program management costs. The overall strategy will keep the cost of marketing and outreach low, to increase interest and demand by using the employer as a credible messenger, and to provide affordable financing to address the barrier of funding deep energy improvements. Additionally, this program will encourage employees to make energy efficiency improvements to increase comfort levels, heighten energy and cost savings, and reduce greenhouse gases. These are all benefits, which, in turn, can be leveraged to achieve employers' overarching sustainability goals and efforts.
Phase I: Michigan Saves will begin outreach with employers, contractors, and financial institutions through existing and partner networks. In particular, meetings will be set up to qualify potential partnerships through confirming interest, ability, and resource commitments. After two employer organizations are chosen for the pilot, the program timelines, roles, financial and resource commitments, processes, and reporting metrics will be established and customized for each employer organization.
Phase II: Hold kick-off meeting(s) for employers. The program will be managed based on the processes and timelines established in Phase I. Stakeholder meetings to review progress will be held monthly after this point.
Phase III: Program evaluation will take place, consisting of reporting results, reviewing lessons learned and best practices, and revising the model for subsequent employers. Michigan Saves will present results at conferences to support the national scalability and replicability of the pilot.
Phase IV: Preparation for next phase of participants will begin. The outreach and qualification processes will be repeated from Phases I-III in order to further expand this model to additional employer organizations. In preparation of this rollout, Michigan Saves will report results, review lessons learned and best practices, and revise the program model, if necessary.
American homes account for roughly 25% of all the energy consumed in the United States, according to ACEEE. About 80% of that energy is consumed by single-family residences. Many efficiency gains are being offset by increases in the number of electronics and appliances in the average home. There are still many large opportunities for improvement, especially in areas such as whole-home performance and systems.
Consumers are inundated with a myriad of competing priorities when spending their discretionary income. Motivating homeowners to make energy efficiency a priority can be a difficult and daunting task. In the fall of 2011, Michigan Saves and the City of Grand Rapids piloted a program at Grand Valley State University that utilized internal high visibility champions and employer communication channels to inspire colleagues to take action to improve the efficiency of their homes. The results of the pilot indicated that typical energy efficiency marketing costs can be significantly reduced. Michigan Saves is working to replicate, standardize, and scale up this model to ensure program costs are manageable and networks for local contracting resources can be built.
Michigan Saves seeks employers who have strong sustainability practices in place throughout their organization and who want to extend their organization's sustainability impact to their employees. Ideal candidates will have headquartered locations in Michigan, a credit union service to offer their employees, and have resources, either financial or in-kind, to lead the internal effort.
Michigan Saves also seeks assistance from organizations that could assist with marketing, publicity, and public relations, especially as it relates to consumer communication. Additionally, this program seeks a business consulting firm that might adopt this model for their customers' sustainability plans.
Michigan Saves will compile best practices to share with other stakeholders. Participating employers will receive programs specifically designed to align with their strategic goals that utilize best practices developed over several years. Employers will receive publicity, support, and implementation
Contractors will receive leads generated through this program, and will be able to expand their business by using best practices, tools, and techniques developed over several years.
Credit unions will expand their membership and their service offering. The loans offered to consumers will be backed by Michigan Saves' loan loss reserve, thereby allowing expansion with minimal risk.