2000 National Symposium on Market Transformation

2000 National Symposium on Market Transformation

Building on Initial Successes

Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, DC
March 20, 2000 to March 21, 2000

Sponsored by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and
the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)
with support from the US EPA/DOE ENERGY STAR® Programs.


Summary and Highlights of the 2000 National Symposium on Market Transformation: Building on Initial Successes

Margaret Suozzo, Senior Associate, ACEEE


On March 20-21, 2000, ACEEE together with CEE co-hosted the 2000 National Symposium on Market Transformation (the fourth in an annual series formerly known as the Market Transformation Workshop) in Washington, DC. This conference focused on advancing the market transformation approach to achieving energy efficiency. Through three broad plenary sessions, several smaller concurrent sessions and numerous in-depth working sessions, participants gleaned both big-picture issues affecting market transformation policy and program design as well as detailed program-related issues that pose challenges and opportunities for initiative successes.

This year, nearly 320 policy makers, planners, and practitioners from around the country and abroad attended the Symposium. This level of participation represents a 40 percent increase over last year’s event, reflecting growing interest and increased application of the market transformation approach.

The theme of the 2000 National Symposium on Market Transformation -- Building on Initial Successes -- was reflected throughout the conference.  In the welcome address, Steve Nadel of ACEEE helped to define some of the successes to date by highlighting the many achievements of market transformation activities in 1999. Several concurrent sessions also built on this theme, including a session focusing on findings from evaluation and market research as well as one that reviewed initiatives that have demonstrated “elements of sustainability.” Both provided needed lessons to help shape the direction of newer or less successful initiatives. The growing momentum for state and regional policies that support market transformation was apparent in a concurrent session “regional roundup” in which “old-time” policymakers and practitioners in the market transformation arena (e.g., Northwest, Northeast, and California representatives) shared their approaches and experiences together with newcomers to the field (e.g., the Midwest region, Texas, etc.). And finally, the vast majority of the working sessions were dedicated to the actions required to build upon the initial successes of specific market transformation initiatives.

Another thread running through the conference, was the role of market transformation programs in addressing electric reliability issues. This was initiated by Ralph Cavanaugh of NRDC, who in the opening plenary challenged the market transformation community to demonstrate to policy makers how market transformation activities can address the electric reliability problems plaguing much of the country. As a result, discussion of market transformation as a tool for mitigating capacity problems ran throughout the conference in both formal sessions and in hallway discussions.

Several key themes were highlighted in subsequent plenary sessions. The market transformation community always appreciates the opportunity to learn about and improve its approaches to marketing energy efficient goods and services, and the second plenary provided this opportunity from both the marketing/communications industry perspective and a major retailer’s perspective.  Joe Phelps of The Phelps Group, an integrated marketing and communications firm, emphasized the critical importance given the plethora of messages that consumers receive of keeping the Energy Star message simple and consistent in all regions where it is used.  John Schlenner of Sears gave the audience much sought-after insight into Sears’ marketing decisions, the timelines on which they operate.  He also reminded the audience that the retailer responds first and foremost to consumer demand and offered several suggestions as to the types of activities that utilities and others can conduct to influence buyers decisions, and hence retailer stocking practices.

The third plenary session raised thought-provoking issues about new pathways for market transformation, exploring emerging approaches being pursued by a regulated distribution company and the private sector.  How the market transformation community can seize these opportunities and help to effect lasting change in each of these markets was raised. One example of these new pathways described the initial stages of a utility-community partnership to develop community-based energy efficiency, load management and generation strategies. Another example described an energy services company’s current efforts to bundle comprehensive commodity and facility services for energy and water provision. Bundling was proffered to offer service providers both the margins and the volume needed to survive in the market and offer service recipients maximum efficiency.  Some suggestions about how publicly-funded market transformation activity could kick-start the market for comprehsensive services were also presented.

The majority of the 18 working sessions at the Symposium enabled participants to roll up their sleeves and discuss nuts and bolts strategy for specific initiatives: what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to be done to move the initiative forward (e.g., residential appliances, Energy Star fixtures, etc.).  Increasingly, market transformation initiatives are expanding from technology-oriented initiatives to systems-oriented initiatives that aim not only to ensure that high efficiency equipment is specified but also that it is installed, operated and maintained to yield optimal energy efficiency.  Several of the working sessions, hence, focused on existing or contemplated initiatives that feature strategies for improving these practices (e.g., building operator certification activities, residential HVAC installation practices activities, commercial lighting design efforts, and a motor systems initiative). A few working sessions also focused on new approaches being explored (e.g., commercial market segment-based approach to market transformation, tackling the challenge of home efficiency improvements). And several other working sessions focused on policy, rather than implementation, issues (e.g., including sessions on market research, evaluation, and their policy and program implications, as well as communications strategies).

Participants who evaluated the conference rated the Symposium “Very Good” and offered numerous positive and constructive comments for organizers to contemplate for next year’s effort. A summary of these evaluations is attached. In brief, the plenary session on marketing in particular, was the most well-received of those sessions, and the concurrent session that reviewed activities of several regions was the highest-ranked of its type.