Since January 2010, CoLab has been collaborating with MIT Research Scientist Harvey Michaels and more than a dozen students from DUSP, MIT Engineering Systems Division, MIT Sloan School of Management and Tufts University on developing innovative strategies for increasing urban energy efficiency. Together, they have generated a collection of theses, papers, case studies and reports about community-based energy efficiency, drawing from lessons in Massachusetts, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Greensboro, Los Angeles, and other cities. Their research has been useful for informing local and national policy advocacy and program design.
Participating students share their research at an annual spring symposium that is co-hosted by Michaels and the CoLab. Here, presenters discuss innovations for opening efficiency markets to new entrants. Themes include:
- Transparency: with respect to technologies (visualization/control) and market systems (“efficiency meters”).
- Democratization: standardizing valuations for efficiency, demand, and carbon; transitioning utilities/government to facilitator roles.
- Collective action: community enablement systems and models, collective rewards.
Energy Efficiency Strategy Project (EESP) alumni now hold leadership positions at the US Department of Energy, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Others work for municipal governments and consulting firms. The project has thus given birth to a network of practitioners.
In February 2012, CoLab co-authored a white paper with EESP and ACEEE. The paper, titled The Role of Local Governments and Community Organizations as Energy Efficiency Implementation Partners, presents eight case studies from communities across the country and showcases how local governments and civil society can support energy efficiency efforts through enabling policies and program partnerships. Other EESP papers can be viewed at http://web.mit.edu/energy-efficiency.