Step 1: Assess the Market
Using Market Analysis to Tailor Program Design
Understanding that its housing market lagged behind the rest of the region, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, completed a countywide housing market analysis in 2005. The analysis covers topics such as:
- Socioeconomic trends and projections
- Housing characteristics
- Real estate market conditions
- Home ownership and rental housing forecasts
- Affordable housing needs.
Fayette County Better Buildings used information contained in the analysis to help inform its program design. For example, the program drew on information about the county's "patch" communities—towns constructed in the early 1900s by coal companies to house workers—to ensure that the program would address the unique conditions within these communities.
To establish meaningful program goals and objectives and to create program offerings that will resonate with your community, you will first need to understand the local market for energy efficiency:
- Assess the characteristics of the building stock in your community to develop a sense of the range of potential upgrade projects that local homeowners and businesses would likely want to implement. Example characteristics include:
- Building types (e.g., single family homes, large apartments, commercial strip malls)
- Age of buildings and type of construction, including materials
- Age and type of heating and residential equipment, including fuel types.
- Assess current clean energy services offered by local utilities, financial institutions, government, colleges, and not-for-profit clean energy programs. Existing clean energy programs may offer energy efficiency services that your program can leverage. Alternatively, your program could be designed to fill gaps in services. You should learn if:
- Not-for-profit organizations are already coordinating an energy efficiency upgrade outreach campaign.
- Local community colleges have programs in place to train energy professionals.
- Local financial institutions are offering residential energy efficiency or small business loans.
- Local utilities offer energy efficiency incentives, and if so, who can qualify (e.g., all residential ratepayers? Low- and moderate-income families only? Commercial customers?)
- Research community demographics. The characteristics of the population in your community will be a key driver in determining what services your program offers. Demographics you should research include:
- Educational attainment
- Homeownership versus renting
- Employment status.
Much of this information can be found through the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Understand prevailing community opinions of energy efficiency. Questions to ask include:
- Do people in your community understand that energy efficiency improvements can lead to significant energy cost savings?
- Do they value the link between energy efficiency and the environment?
- Do they respond to the idea of avoiding waste?