Efficient Homes Initiative  

Updated: 
03-04-2016

General Information

Initiative Name: Efficient Homes Initiative
Primary Contact: Neil Grigsby
Senior Initiative Manager, Residential Sector
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
421 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 600
Portland, Oregon, 97204
United States
503-688-5417
ngrigsby@neea.org
www.neea.org

DESCRIPTION

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and its utility partners accelerate market adoption of energy-efficient homes. In conjunction with the EPA, NEEA provides builders with regional marketing, recruitment and training support in the Northwest and gives Verifiers and Raters the tools they need to verify and certify energy-efficient homes.

Northwest ENERGY STAR® Homes offers information, tools, and resources on the features and increased comfort of homes that are at least 15% more efficient than existing state building codes. NEEA is now leveraging its work through Northwest ENERGY STAR® Homes, as well as relationships with strong market partners and utility support, to explore the next phase in new construction through an innovative pilot program.

As part of the pilot program to identify the most cost-effective ways to achieve maximum energy savings in residential new construction, an exclusive group of Northwest homes were designed to be more energy-efficient and then monitored for performance.

Since its inception in 2012, the home performance pilot has included more than 100 participating homes across Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Once a pilot home is built and occupied, the program monitors it for 13 months to track its performance and ensure it meets desired efficiency goals. Pilot homes are at least 30% more energy-efficient than homes built to state-specific energy codes, with many exceeding that number. The monitoring provides a trove of data that will push future building energy codes in the Northwest.

Initiative Type
Consumer awareness efforts for a high-performance educational initiative that also provides technical training to builders, raters, verifiers, and other market partners.

Sponsoring / Supporting Organizations
NEEA is an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices in the Northwest. More information is available here: neea.org/about-neea/northwest-energy-efficiency-alliance-board

Geographic Reach: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington

Initiative Start Date: The Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes initiative began in 2004. This specific pilot program launched in 2012.

Initiative End Date: Current / TBD

Puget Sound Energy sample concept storyboards
Puget Sound Energy sample concept storyboards
Puget Sound Energy sample concept storyboards

Sample concept storyboards.

Criteria Objectives

Whole Building Design Objectives
A number of energy-efficient features and strategies are promoted to achieve the initiative's targeted new level of home efficiency. Advanced air-sealing techniques help create a tighter home envelope, which incorporates advanced framing, more efficient windows, and increased insulation. Additionally, pilot homes leverage highly efficient heating and cooling strategies using innovative technology, such as heat recovery ventilators and ductless heat pumps. This leads to homes that are considerably more efficient than a standard home, with optimal comfort levels, better indoor air quality, and dramatically reduced energy costs.

Consumer Benefits
The pilot's marketing materials, including a video produced on behalf of Puget Sound Energy, tell a compelling story of how local companies are working together to build more energy-efficient homes for the greater good of the entire community. The pilot video brings this story to life through interviews with the builder and homeowner layered between shots of a pilot home that detail its advanced features.

Transferability and Marketability.
The materials, strategies, and tactics are highly transferable as long as modifications are made to fit regional needs.

Energy and Environment.
This pilot provides marketing materials to builders, including the attached video , to help them promote the benefits of energy and water savings by emphasizing that energy-saving homes are simply more durable, affordable and comfortable.

Campaign Objectives

  • Increase awareness and educate targeted consumers about advanced construction practices and technologies, as well as homeowner benefits such as increased comfort, better indoor air quality, and lower energy bills.

  • Provide value to partners by positioning the utility and participating builders as dedicated to bringing the next generation of homes to their local community.

  • Use public relations and social media posts to extend the campaign's reach in participating utility territories and drive traffic to the video (hosted at northwestenergystar.com/super-efficient-homes) to maximize campaign effectiveness.

Results:

  • 73M+ total campaign impressions (from PR and social media)
  • 190K+ total campaign video views
  • 6,374 Facebook actions (post likes, views, shares, comments, and clicks through to the landing page)
  • 1,283 total campaign landing page visits
  • 177 sites picked up the press release
  • 2 unique stories generated from PR outreach
  • 68% increase to Facebook page followers

Synergies that resulted from the design objectives addressed in the initiative.
Campaign tactics to increase awareness and website traffic consisted of public relations outreach across the Northwest and Facebook sponsored posts targeted to consumers and market partners in the Puget Sound area. These tactics drove traffic to the landing page, where visitors could learn more about efficient building practices and how they lead to whole-home comfort and energy savings.

  • Public Relations—Distributed a press release to news outlets throughout the Northwest and posted it on the PR Newswire network, along with the video itself
  • Facebook—Sponsored Facebook posts for both the full video and 15-second clips were featured on the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes Facebook page and targeted to select audiences in the Puget Sound area
  • PSE—Shared the full video and 15-second clips with PSE to feature on their social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter

How these results were determined and measured.
The promotional tactics successfully surpassed campaign goals for impressions and video views, increasing awareness, and motivating consumers to take action to learn more.

Benefits to target audience.
The video targets local consumers, with an emphasis on homebuyers. Through NEEA primary research conducted in fall 2011 with egg and spring 2013 with Shelton Group, it is known that potential homebuyers are looking for energy savings (a lower cost of living), comfort, improved indoor air quality (health), and reduced maintenance. This research also informed the program's target demographic, which includes women ages 25 to 65. The secondary audience is homebuilders, trades, and the overarching construction and energy industry, with a focus on the Puget Sound area.

REFERENCES

Awards

  • Merit Award: 2015 Sustainable Building Industry Council Beyond Green Awards, High-Performance Initiatives, Consumer Awareness Efforts.

Publishing

See also Appendix A  for the complete online distribution list.