EPE TIG Week: Certification for Energy Efficiency Program Evaluators by Mary Sutter

Mary Sutter
Mary Sutter

Hello! I am Mary Sutter, a Partner at Grounded Research and Consulting, LLC and have been evaluating the somewhat niche area of energy efficiency programs for my entire professional career (27 years). Recently, I was privileged to lead an extraordinary group of colleagues in our effort to codify an introductory certificate for evaluators in our field of energy efficiency evaluation.

Today, I will share a bit about why we chose to move towards a certificate and what we have accomplished to date.

Our niche evaluation area is not new – it has been around for approximately 40 years, as long as there have been energy efficiency programs. Four decades ago, social scientists and engineers adapted at-the-time-current program evaluation practices to fit energy efficiency programs and assess the impacts of these programs and, like all evaluation, we continue to evolve.

Energy efficiency is now an $8 billion a year industry and has a unique requirement of mostly using independent third-party evaluators to assess impacts. Evaluators are in high demand, with many coming from basic humanities or engineering backgrounds and learning about evaluation in on-the-job work situations. Because of this, many new practitioners are unaware of the deep and robust discussions around program evaluation. We are beginning to overcome that hurdle through a certificate on the Foundations of Impact Evaluation (for energy efficiency evaluators).

Energy Efficiency Evaluator Certification

Through a seven-month long process, we met with our steering committee to derive the learning outcomes (rooted in standards and competencies) for this certificate.

Rad Resource:

If you want to see several good documents that are specific to evaluation of energy efficiency programs, led by Mike Li, at the Department of Energy (DOE), go to the See Action website. They provide knowledge and structure to energy efficiency programs and their evaluation.

Go here to read through the basics of impact evaluation for energy efficiency evaluators! You can see how we pull in the multiple dimensions of evaluation as put forward by AEA and tailor them to our specific energy efficiency industry.

It is a great way to see how others in the evaluation area are working to create solid and competent evaluators!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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