Energy Efficiency Decision-Making – A Relationship Opportunity for Commissioning Providers

As we know, deciding to invest in energy efficiency isn’t arbitrary. Three researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh PA conducted a survey to find out more about how Class B and C office building owners make that decision, and why.

Not surprisingly, the most frequent reason for not investing was uncertainty. Yes, they’re looking for benefits that outweigh the costs, and they want proof. But also, the survey — which included both a survey form and individual interviews — found that uncertainty and a lack of information about costs and energy savings do play a significant role, “a significant proportion of the respondents also express aversion to debt and a lack of sensitivity to split incentives [that result from lease structuring models].”

These Class B and C Owners rarely used financing. The chart below shows decision-making considerations suggested in the survey, ranging from “very unhelpful” to “very helpful.”

The interviews showed that respondents “(1) did not spontaneously consider uncertainty in energy savings, (2) infrequently considered the time value of their money, (3) rarely used financing for improvements to their buildings, (4) were more concerned about tenant retention than energy bills, and (5) often had relationships with contractors that helped them scope potential projects.”

The contractors with whom these owners had relationships could have been any sort of trusted provider across the spectrum of building industry professions and trades. Commissioning providers who want to forge longer-term relationships may benefit by assisting Owners’ decision to invest in energy efficiency — long before their RFP (for a less energy efficient project) drops.

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