Successful residential energy efficiency programs use data collection, transfer, and storage systems to effectively implement activities and track program metrics. While systems based on simple spreadsheets can be easy to develop, such systems may not be suitable as program scale increases. Programs across the country have found immense value from investing the time and resources required to create an information technology (IT) system to regularly monitor progress and automate time-intensive manual processes.
Following are a few different IT approaches Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners successfully implemented:
Develop a Customized Data Management System
Once program participation reached the hundreds, Garfield Clean Energy in Garfield County, Colorado, realized that file folders and Excel spreadsheets were not a sufficient data management system. Working with a third-party developer, the program created a customized IT system through which it could easily track building and energy data, upgrade status, contractors, rebates, and more. Using that data and infrastructure, the program was able to better monitor the progress being made and analyze the effectiveness of program activities.
Consider Mobile Devices
EnergySmart in Boulder, Colorado, once used spreadsheets to manage data, but as the program expanded, it became clear that a more user-friendly, real-time, cloud-based IT system was needed to track customers throughout the process. EnergySmart selected a system that allowed for tracking of metrics in a consistent and organized fashion and that could be accessed through smart phones and tablets. With this mobile-friendly IT system, energy advisors could enter and access data while in the field, including customer information, assessment findings, and financing opportunities. This approach enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of the data entry process.
Test Tools and Processes
Before full-scale implementation, EnergySmart prioritized testing the program’s data collection processes and systems and recruited contractors and program staff for the task. Testing during a pilot or soft launch provided a chance to test the forms and reporting process on actual energy upgrades instead of hypothetical scenarios.
Tell Me More
Discover more data collection and analysis techniques by visiting the Evaluation and Data Collection – Develop Resources handbook for step-by-step instructions and program examples. Here you will find information on IT systems, as well as other solutions:
- Develop data collection and evaluation plans in conjunction with program design
- Use compatible formats for data sharing and reporting, and work with partners to implement standard data exchange protocols
- Provide materials and training to ensure data quality, consistency, and accuracy
- Develop routine reports or dashboards to help monitor the collected data
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