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APTIM Energy Solutions Recognized at This Year’s MEEA Midwest Energy Solutions Conference

APTIM Energy Solutions is a proud member of Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), a collaborative network of more than 160 member organizations spanning 13 states. Members include utilities, nonprofits, universities, energy efficiency-related businesses, manufacturers, state and local governments, and other energy efficiency stakeholders. MEEA provides a professional forum where members and stakeholders make connections, seek advice, and learn about energy efficiency. MEEA plays an important role in forging partnerships, promoting new technologies, and curating the evolving conversation around economic sustainability and environmental stewardship from energy efficiency.

Once a year, MEEA invites all energy stakeholders to gather at their annual Midwest Energy Solutions (MES) Conference to raise awareness and reinforce the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest. MES celebrates accomplishments in energy efficiency and lays out the efficiency program and policy landscape for the coming year.

This year, MEEA awarded Focus on Energy, a program administered by APTIM, the Inspiring Efficiency Education Award. The award recognized the Program for developing the Real Estate Ambassador Initiative, an innovative approach to leveraging the valuable network of third-party influencers which ultimately drives program awareness and growth among a high-potential customer segment.

About the Award-Winning Real Estate Ambassador Initiative

The Ambassador Initiative partners with real estate professionals across Wisconsin, providing them with energy efficiency education and exclusive offerings to use with their clients. In turn, Ambassadors pass along Focus on Energy information and incentives to their clients. This mutually beneficial approach helps real estate professionals differentiate themselves with new client perks and knowledge on topics increasingly important to homebuyers. Focus on Energy benefits from that trusted third-party endorsement as well as gains access to an untapped customer segment that actively spends more money on home improvement projects than the average homeowner.

Across the country, in every utility service area there is a robust network of real estate professionals actively promoting their services and expertise. Previous attempts to engage and educate real estate professionals nationally yielded mixed results. Real estate professionals are interested in energy efficiency and related program information, but traditional programs are designed for trade ally contractors and end use customers. Focus on Energy’s real estate initiative is unique in that, rather than trying to integrate real estate professionals into the existing program, a custom offering was developed and specifically formulated with the interests, concerns, and motivations of the real estate professional in mind. By ensuring the offering didn’t introduce risk into their potential purchase transactions, but rather offered an undeniable value to both the real estate professional and their clients, the Initiative effectively leverages their influencer status with new home buyers as well as their often-large networks of existing homeowners and other industry stakeholders. By customizing an offering mutually beneficial but purposeful in addressing their needs, the Ambassador Initiative carved an effective path for reaching homeowners at a critical time and establishing a connection between home ownership and Focus on Energy.

Focus on Energy launched the Real Estate Ambassador Initiative in January 2019 and it continues to grow, evolve, and optimize today. As of June 2021, approximately 500 enrolled homeowners moved forward with completing a Focus-qualifying energy-efficient home improvement, generating approximately 21,000 lifecycle Metric Million British Thermal Unit (MMBtu) for the Focus on Energy portfolio, and achieving a 9.4 percent conversion rate to-date for the initiative. In addition to these energy-efficient actions generated from this initiative, the strategy leads to increased awareness and education of program offerings as well as energy efficiency principles in general. The 6,000 (and counting) homeowners enrolled via the Ambassador Initiative received educational information and resources relevant to the time in their lives.

Joel Freehling’s “Re-Energizing the Rust Belt: Decarbonizing the Midwest’s Large Energy Users”

Additionally, APTIM’s Director of Clean Technology, Joel Freehling, served as a conference panelist representing the topic of “Re-Energizing the Rust Belt: Decarbonizing the Midwest’s Large Energy Users”. Federal, state, and local governments are adopting decarbonization goals. To meet them, large energy users are a key target for reducing emissions. These diverse customers, ranging from steel mills to universities, to local critical infrastructure like hospitals, need a pathway to carbon reduction that recognizes their vital roles in the region’s economy and communities. Whether seeking electrification, cogeneration, or electric and gas efficiency, they are looking for guidance and answers. The panel discussion took a hands-on look at the practices bringing decarbonization to these customers.

Key Takeaways From the 2022 MEEA Conference: The Future of Energy Efficiency and Industry Trends

  • The energy efficiency industry is the largest employer in the energy sector. As opportunities continue to grow, it is imperative that equitable workforce development with diversified outreach methods is prioritized in all communities.
  • Energy efficiency has a significant impact on human health; however, efforts to improve the two are often siloed. Combining non-energy benefits, specifically regarding health, with energy efficiency messaging, increases customer participation and more effectively and holistically improves the wellbeing of households and communities.
  • Advanced HVAC technologies, including, but not limited to, heat pumps, will play a key role in mitigating climate change. However, availability of these technologies and whether they can meet the heating and cooling needs of colder regions is still uncertain.
  • The interdependencies between energy and water systems are well documented. Water infrastructure serves as a way to capture and quantify more energy savings. Strengthening energy and water systems will be important to meet increasing annual energy-saving goals.
  • Among new legislative strategies, state programs, and utility offerings, energy efficiency financing is becoming more accessible for customers. While energy efficiency will continue to be a critical tool in rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, financing efficiency will need to be part of the conversation as we deepen clean energy commitments.
  • Increased diversity, a focus on equity, a focus on climate, and risk mitigation are the future of energy efficiency and we need to work together to reach established goals.
  • From households to communities, low-income neighborhoods carry disproportionate energy burdens due to historic exclusion. Compounded by poorly insulated housing and high rates of weatherization programming walkaways, it is imperative to approach affordability efforts holistically, centered around key issues defined by the affected communities while democratizing access to affordable energy.
  • Community-based organizations serve as key partners. By engaging them in the design and delivery of energy efficiency program marketing and outreach, educating customers, and gaining their participation, the result will be more inclusive.

By Julia Sander, Marketing Manager — Energy Solutions

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