- Buildings Guide
- Policy Guide
- Appliances Guide
Informing investors and end-users about energy saving opportunities, both in new build and in retrofit, and the achievable cost savings and other benefits, as well as about assistance available through other policies and services, will enable decision-makers to make more informed choices and improve uptake of energy efficiency options.
Important instruments for providing information are, for instance, information centres, demonstration buildings, information campaigns, websites, and calculation tools.
The overall aim of policies providing information is to increase the awareness and knowledge of various stakeholders about energy efficiency options and their benefits, how to take advantages of policies for adopting different options, to help stakeholders to identify concrete energy saving opportunities, and to improve their trust in and enhance their up-taking of energy efficiency options.
Worldwide implementation status
Policies providing information are implemented all over the world. For example, the French network of local energy information centres (Espaces Info Energie, EIE) provides individualised advice on energy efficiency in residential buildings to the public. (IEA 2012). In China, between 2001 and 2005, a total number of 217 low energy buildings and green buildings demonstration projects were conducted nationwide (MOHURD 2012).
Information measures can be an international, national, regional or local policy. However, they are mostly implemented on national or local level.
The foci of policies providing information for energy efficiency in buildings are the overall energy performance of very energy-efficient new buildings and renovation, along with more detail on energy-efficient technologies applied in residential, commercial and public buildings, as well as behaviour change.
Policies providing information become more effective when combining with the whole range of policies and measures, especially, minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), building energy labels or certificates and other regulations, financial instruments, etc. (UNDP 2010).
Combined with regulatory policies or measures:
For example, information policies always benefit from a mandatory energy labelling or certification of whole building energy performance or for building equipment. The labelling provides market transparency and thus enhances the usability of information provided. In turn, the information programme increases awareness of market actors for the label and its use. Furthermore, the possibility of applying energy efficiency options may be constrained by the regulations of landlord and tenant. Thus, the regulations should be revised to allow for increasing the rent without energy costs for recovery of cost-effective investment that decreases ‘total rent’ including energy costs. Information programmes can make both sides aware of the benefits of such a regulation for them. In addition, regulations on minimum energy performance needs to be in place to secure the energy efficiency levels achieved by removing the least efficient building designs from the market. On the other hand, policies providing information, especially if designed for specific target groups, can improve compliance with the regulations (UNDP 2010).
Combined with financial instruments:
For example, if major economic or other barriers preventing consumer action prevail, being aware of energy efficiency options and their energy saving and cost-effective potentials is not sufficient. At this point, different financial instruments are necessary. Information programmes are then crucial to make market actors aware of the financial instruments and should include the instruments in calculation of costs and benefits of energy efficiency when informing potential investors.
All information policies and measures have in common that they need actors to implement and control the policy and a funding scheme to finance the measure. According to the wide range of different policies to provide information, it is difficult to explain other pre-conditions.
For example, for online databases with very energy-efficient buildings or with most efficient products/ technologies on the market, authorized institutions and procedures should be set up for verification of these efficient products.
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
Agencies are necessary to implement the policy. For example, an information department/centre needs to be set up under the responsible governmental agency. A network of local energy agencies or energy advice centres is also very useful for implementing any information programme. NGOs, international institutions, research institutes can also play an important role, for example; in developing or financing demonstration projects and/or information campaigns, developing calculation tools, establishing national or international information platforms, drafting information brochures, etc.
Funding schemes are necessary to finance the policy. Some policies, like small online campaigns can be implemented with low costs. On the other hand, funding schemes are needed for demonstration projects, large-scale information campaigns, research on calculation tools, etc.
In general, planning and design of policies providing information includes: pre-studies of the information needs and background of the target group as well as the stage of market transformation; discussion among stakeholders what information is intended to be delivered and what instruments are to be used; planning resources and planning monitoring and evaluation.
For example, for focused information campaigns: Effective campaigns typically operate following a strategic plan with the following steps: Setting the programme goals in line with policy goals, analysing the determinants of desired behavioural change, market segmentation and choice of target groups, choice of instruments, planning the organisation and management (e.g. by a qualified institutional infrastructure such as energy agencies, energy companies, consumer protection agencies, or specific institutions such as energy advice centres), risk analysis and back-up plan, programme testing and pilot campaign, planning the resources, and planning the monitoring and evaluation. Implementation would follow the plans, as would finally monitoring and evaluation of the campaign.
Information tools can and should have a quantified target. However, it may not be feasible to set an energy savings target for them separately as part of a policy package. Rather, the target could be on indicators of success such as reaching a high number of end-users and other market actors with the information or a certain share of recipients taking the desired energy efficiency action.
Co-operation of countries
Several countries worldwide have already introduced measures to provide information about energy efficiency. Therefore co-operations are helpful for countries that plan to implement a campaign or similar measures. Furthermore, for example, online tools are often used by consumers from different countries at the same time, or are easy to translate and transfer.
Policies providing information are integrated into a policy package with other instruments. Therefore, monitoring and evaluating the impact on energy savings after its implementation does not only reflect the impact of the information instruments but also the effects of the other instruments. Policy-makers will need to assess whether it will be useful and possible to attribute shares of the overall impact to individual instruments such as an information campaign.
On the other hand, for a specific information program, e.g. a campaign, monitoring can serve two objectives: It provides feedback to campaign management to allow effective control. Monitoring can be used to inform the programme management about the success of the campaign and to allow correct and prompt action if necessary to ensure that programme goals are achieved. Also the needs of the specific target group can be monitored by asking them questions about how they perceive a campaign or tool, what energy efficiency action(s) they took, and what barriers they experienced from it. This is typically done by conducting a feedback survey with campaign-related questions. These surveys are often based on telephone calls, postal questionnaires or web-based elements. An effective tool in helping to reach the programme goals is to establish performance indicators, which can be monitored during programme implementation.
Typical performance indicators for information instruments are the number of materials distributed, web-site visitors, event participants, TV campaign viewers, numbers of installations etc. (Mikkonen et al. 2010).
Two types of evaluation and evaluation objectives can be identified. Process evaluation is a systematic assessment of the campaign for the purpose of improving its design, its delivery, and the usefulness of the quality of services delivered to the consumer.
Impact evaluation examines the effect/outcome (changes of behaviour, energy savings and CO2 emission reduction). It is important to give adequate consideration to the various aspects of evaluation already in the campaign or tool design. However, policies providing information are integrated into a policy package with other instruments. Therefore, monitoring and evaluating the impact on energy savings after its implementation does not only reflect the impact of the information instruments but also the effects of the other instruments. Policy-makers will need to assess whether it will be useful and possible to attribute shares of the overall impact to individual instruments such as an information campaign.
Other sustainability aspects and environmental impacts can (and should) be part of an information or education campaign, e.g. health aspects, building material with high energy efficiency but low resource use, or uses of other resources such as water and land.
Various co-benefits, e.g. regarding health aspects or uses of other resources such as water and land, may arise from implementing policies providing information.
The following barriers are possible during the implementation of the policy:
The following measures can be undertaken to overcome the barriers:
There are a lack of studies on the impact of awareness raising and information instruments. Scientific literature provides only little information on the potential of these activities. There are the general problems of (1) monitoring energy efficiency action taken by the target groups as a consequence of the information and (2) the difficulty of attributing energy savings to these instruments. That they are part of an overall package may explain this fact (UNDP 2010).
The costs differ significantly depending on sub-categories of policies providing information, i.e. energy advice centres, demonstration programmes, information campaign of different sizes, websites, etc..
For example, in France in 2001, an important information campaign with a slogan of “preserve your money, preserve your planet” had a budget of 6 million Euro. It was mainly composed of a mass-media nationwide campaign to sensitise the general public (3.5 million Euro) and operations of proximity to inform the consumers in their daily life (0.7 million Euro) (MURE 2011).
Besides, governments in China have formulated policies to subsidise and reward demonstration projects. For instance, in Shanghai, new public and residential building demonstration projects are subsidised up to 50 Yuan/m2 (about 8 US dollars), residential building retrofitting up to 100 Yuan/m2, public building retrofitting up to 50 Yuan /m2 (Shanghai Transport Committee 2009).
To operate an information centre, for instance, in France, the overall budget of local energy information centres created by French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) is 15 million Euro/year (MURE 2010).
Well designed and focused information and motivation campaigns and programs can have good results and benefit-cost ratios at relatively low absolute costs. On the other hand, badly designed and implemented campaigns can cost a lot of money without good results. But even the successful ones need to be combined with other policy instruments with relatively high costs, e.g. financial incentives, to enhance their impacts.
Energy Efficiency Utility Program of Vermont
Type: Energy efficiency funds
Local Energy Information Centres
Type: Provision of information
Type: Provision of information
Type: Financial Incentives for ULEB and deep retrofits