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Step 2: Align with Organizational Goals

Whether your energy data management program starts from the staff level or is directed from the top down, aligning the value proposition of the program with your organization's mission and established goals will be vital to its success. In doing so, it will help ensure your executive leadership and key stakeholders are invested in the program.

To align your energy data management program with your organization's mission and goals:

  • Identify and engage key stakeholders
  • Leverage drivers and motivators to create alignment
  • Develop a vision for success
  • Cultivate strong allies
  • Start with small steps
  • Anticipate barriers and provide support to stakeholders.

Identify and Engage Key Stakeholders

To make the case for a continuous energy data management program, demonstrate how this activity can support and benefit your organization on many levels. The success of an energy data management program relies on effective engagement with key stakeholders. Even if your leadership sets policies and provides the authority to begin an energy data management program, it is critical to identify and engage the stakeholders whose buy-in is needed to develop and execute this program. Key stakeholders from the following departments include, but are not limited to:

  • Executive Leadership
  • Finance
  • Facilities
  • Information Technology.

Identify all stakeholders and their roles in the energy data management program by asking:

  • Who will make decisions?
  • Who may affect the program's success through action or inaction?
  • Which stakeholders control the budget and/or resources that may be needed to implement this program?
  • Which groups hold critical information?

Map out how and when you will gather input from the various stakeholders and what, how, and when you will communicate with them.

Once you identify key stakeholders, use a collaborative approach to formulate a data management program that aligns with their goals and interests. Treating stakeholders as partners and collaborators and listening to their input is a well-documented strategy for generating buy-in, creating a sense of ownership in the program, and establishing broad support.

Local Government Spotlight: Virginia Beach, Virginia
A Collaborative Approach to the Development of an Energy-Saving Strategy

In response to rising utility expenditures, Virginia Beach, Virginia, set a goal to reduce electricity use in city buildings by 10% from a 2007-2008 fiscal year baseline by 2013. In 5 years, the city reduced its cumulative electricity consumption in city buildings by 15% and saved an estimated $1 million in utility costs. To achieve this success, the city established a Joint Energy Committee (JEC) in 2008 to identify, assess, and implement energy-related activities. The JEC was chaired by the deputy city manager and comprised representatives from city departments, public schools, and its major electric utility, Dominion Virginia Power.

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Leverage Drivers and Motivators to Create Alignment

Align your energy data management program with your organization's broader goals and needs by identifying the particular drivers that motivate your key stakeholders to respond.

Drivers and motivators may include:

  • Responding to public interest and expectations
  • Rising energy expenditures
  • Shrinking budgets
  • Increasing transparency and accountability
  • Advancing a culture of innovation and high performance
  • Streamlining operations
  • Reducing comfort complaints
  • Meeting energy and environmental goals
  • Complying with policies and executive orders.

More rigorous energy data tracking, monitoring, and analysis can support all of these drivers and motivators. Stakeholders can engage more effectively if your data management program addresses their immediate needs.

Local Government Spotlight: Gillette, Wyoming
Creating Sustainability in America's Energy Capital

To generate buy-in for implementing new sustainability initiatives, the sustainability manager in Gillette, Wyoming, strategically aligned his pitch for new initiatives with the city's values and goals. By employing this strategy, the sustainability manager got buy-in from city leadership, and Gillette officially joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better BuildingsĀ® Challenge in 2012. As of 2015, Gillette reduced its energy usage in city buildings by 18% from a 2009 baseline, making significant progress toward its goal to achieve a 20% cumulative reduction across city-owned buildings by 2022.

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Develop a Vision for Success

To encourage support and participation in your energy data management program, it is important develop a strong and compelling vision for success that:

  • Aligns the value proposition to the general mission of the organization
  • Leverages the drivers and motivators unique to each key stakeholder group
  • Quantifies the impacts once successful.

Translate the value of the program and its associated activities to the specific interests and goals of the key stakeholders in your organization. By showing how the program can directly benefit them, you can establish champions across the organization that can help ensure the program's success.

Convey these benefits using language such as "Through this program we can achieve…" and "This is how you, as an individual, team, or department, can benefit from this program" that leverages the drivers and motivators unique to each stakeholder group. Be sure to include quantifiable metrics that show the specific impact to that key stakeholder or department.

Cultivate Strong Allies

To enhance buy-in and increase credibility during the initial stages of your energy data management program, identify key allies that are willing to be partners or lend support to the new program, especially when building the program from the bottom up. Consider local, regional, and national organizations that may offer resources or technical assistance that you can leverage to support your program. For example, the DOE Better Buildings Challenge provides technical assistance and national recognition to organizations for setting and achieving energy goals and applying and sharing innovative energy solutions. Partnering with other organizations can increase your likelihood for success and help cultivate strong allies to support your program.

Start With Small Steps

If energy data management is not your leadership's top priority, you can jump-start the initiative by taking incremental steps that demonstrate its value. You can make a case for expanding your data management program when initial activities lead to measurable and quick results. An effective strategy is to use your energy data management program to target the low-hanging fruit and demonstrate the feasibility of achieving real energy and cost savings in your organization. For example:

  • Conduct a utility bill audit on a subset of large accounts to identify cost-saving opportunities
  • Select one facility and focus on making no- and low-cost operational improvements and energy efficiency upgrades with a quick-payback period (collect baseline energy usage and cost data so you can show the impacts of your improvements).

These types of projects can serve as showcase projects for what can be done more broadly across your organization, and by using data to verify the results, it can build credibility and demonstrate the measurable value of your energy data management program that can interest your leadership and help cultivate strong allies inside and outside your organization.

Resources: Better Buildings Challenge Showcase Projects
Logo for the Better Buildings Challenge

Public-sector organizations that have voluntarily joined the DOE Better Buildings Challenge have shared their showcase projects that have, on average, achieved energy savings of 30% annually through investments in multiple energy conversation measures.[1] Since 2011, 80 public sector partners have cumulatively achieved 83 trillion Btus in energy savings and $790 million in cost savings, as of 2019 data.[2]

Anticipate Barriers and Provide Support to Stakeholders

It may take time for some stakeholders in your organization to recognize the value of data-driven energy management. Certain stakeholders may view energy data tracking as intrusive and may be reluctant to participate and share information. Others may not view it as a priority and delay taking action or delivering the requested information. In these cases, your best option is to work with what is available and be persistent. As your energy data management program progresses, demonstrated successes can generate support or interest from those who were initially reluctant or slow to engage.

As you roll out your program, include training and technical assistance as part of your implementation plan. Some stakeholders may require additional support to adequately fulfill their role in the process. Training and specific tools can make a significant difference as to whether stakeholders are willing and able to contribute to the program's success. To assist in this effort, look to local, regional, and national partners that may provide resources and training that you can leverage.

State Spotlight: Georgia
Leveraging Partnerships to Train Staff

Leveraging financial assistance from the DOE State Energy Program, Georgia partnered with Gwinnett Technical College to provide Building Operator Certification (BOC) training and education to building operators in state-owned buildings. After completing the BOC training, seven facilities decreased their energy use by more than 2 billion Btus, saving an average of $3,300 per year on energy costs. The training focused on providing state employees with the tools and resources to better understand how to reduce energy use in their facilities, which effectively led to energy and cost savings.

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