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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) Conference is the premier event focused on understanding behavior and decision-making with respect to energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and sustainability.

The BECC Conference is convened by the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) at Stanford University, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) at the University of California, Berkeley.

BECC brings together a range of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers from a variety of fields engaged in energy and climate efforts in order to provide the latest and most relevant behavioral research, best practices, and methodologies. The organizers value abstracts from all relevant disciplines concerned with human behavior, society, and culture, especially work from applied anthropology, social psychology, behavioral economics, organizational behavior, political science, communications, and the cognitive sciences.

Cover page of Persistence of Behavioral Energy Management Activities and Savings in Commercial Office Buildings

Persistence of Behavioral Energy Management Activities and Savings in Commercial Office Buildings


Since 2007, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has offered the Market Partners Program (MPP), which engages the Northwest’s commercial real estate firms to adopt strategic energy management (SEM) practices through the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Initiative. SEM is a holistic organizational consulting process aimed at reducing energy use and encompasses efficient equipment and efficient behavioral activities. Requiring engagement from building staff at all levels, this approach is an ongoing process through which NEEA helps firms develop an action plan that they can implement and revise over several years.

This paper presents the results from a quantitative and qualitative study of the persistence of SEM behaviors and savings at the MPP firms. We quantified annual energy savings by year of participation using a billing analysis. Note that one limitation of this analysis is that it cannot assign savings to individual projects or distinguish between savings generated by new or past projects; therefore, we surveyed MPP staff members to determine which activities remain in place from previous years. After assessing survey responses and reviewing documentation, we attempted to explain the annual savings trends.

We found that the majority of SEM activities (55%) were implemented during the first year of participation, 27% during the second year, 13% during the third year, and 4% during the remaining years. Respondents confirmed that 71% of activities were still in place. Respondents were unsure about 23% of the activities; because all but one of these were capital equipment measures, there is a high probability that these are also still in place. These data did not explain the electricity savings trend, where savings were highest during the first year of participation, decreased during the second year, and then were sustained at just over 3% during the remaining years. Energy savings were calculated at the program level, so there could be many other explanations, such as the possibility firms are implementing SEM at different buildings during different years.