FORTHCOMING MCT REPORT- “Turning Inputs Into Action”
There is no quicker solution to addressing climate change than energy efficiency. Efficiency results in immediate climate benefits.
Over the last two years the Maine Climate Table has hosted several convenings around the state to accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency measures.
The results of these convenings will be shared in our forthcoming report “Turning Inputs into Action.” This report will help towns, communities, businesses, and individuals better understand the issues and opportunities of energy efficiency.
Our communications research clearly indicated broad public support for and interest in energy efficiency in Maine. While considerable energy efficiency work is going on by means of low-income weatherization programs and Efficiency Maine, we know there is potential to scale this up in a number of areas, throughout the state of Maine.
Committed to evidence-based action, the Climate Table started its energy efficiency work by developing a map of the Energy Efficiency System in Maine. The System Map identified obstacles and opportunities for expanding energy efficiency in the state. Using our System Map as a guide, we invited a wide range of people involved in energy efficiency work or in other community based action in Lewiston-Auburn, the Mid-Coast and Down East Maine to join us at two Convenings in 2017. These first Convening in Augusta generated new, innovative, yet still practical ideas to help move us toward our goal of expanding energy efficiency in the state. They also helped us to identify new partners that could lead or support our energy efficiency work.
Our next step was in supporting a series of community-based, cross- sector initiatives (“the Three D’s”), which sought to increase the rate at which Maine residents, small businesses, and municipalities under- take energy efficiency upgrades. Each “D” involved its own volunteer team:
The Deepen Team focused on existing Maine-based programs that seek to expand energy efficiency improvements in small business, municipal, or residential buildings. The team considered past impacts and effectiveness of these programs and identified opportunities for expanding program use. Team members included Maine Development Foundation, Our Katahdin, The Island Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Lee International, and The Natural Resources Council of Maine.
The Develop Team built the capacity of community-based change- makers already working on energy, climate, or related issues. The team worked with existing leadership programs such as those operated by the Maine Development Foundation and the Island Institute, and by evaluated the potential for a climate-related Fellows program, similar to the efforts underway at Maine Campus Com- pact. Team members represented the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Acadia Center, The Island Institute, and a former Maine Public Advocate.
The Disseminate Team worked to connect people with the resources they need to make their homes more affordable to heat, more comfortable, and healthier. Through regional collaborations, this group was particularly focused on resources available to low-income residents and prioritized the use of information-sharing models that can result in action. Team members represented Grow Smart Maine, The Island Institute, Maine Community Action Association, The Natural Resource Council of Maine, and Unity College.
Beginning in 2018 the Climate Table’s Energy Efficiency effort drew a bead on a particular methodology for outreach: reaching out to small groups of interested citizens and businesses in various locations for structured, three-hour conversations about energy efficiency. These sessions were facilitated and highly structured but by no means a classroom-type experience. Instead in each case, the Convenings were designed to stimulate discussion about participants’ experiences with undertaking efficiency projects and the challenges they confronted in the process. Locations for these workshops varied geographically from Brunswick to Fairfield and from Hallowell to Lewiston. Representatives from Efficiency Maine and from local businesses that had made major efficiency investments were resource people at each session. One session focused on recent successes in building low-in- come multi-unit housing in Maine that is highly energy-efficient and Passivhaus-certified.
The Energy Efficiency team was impressed with the high level of energy and commitment that these five Convenings in 2018 and 2019 engendered. All together attendance exceeded 100, including business people, community activists, municipal officials, Chambers of Commerce and environmental organizations. This model for Climate action will be described in greater detail in the Climate Table’s upcoming report entitled “Turning Inputs into Actions”.