State and Local Climate and Energy Program
Importance of Measuring Results
By understanding the extent to which policies and programs achieve various benefits, local governments develop more comprehensive assessments of their climate and clean energy investments and are able to:
- Demonstrate how climate change mitigation and clean energy policies and programs can help achieve multiple energy, environmental, and economic benefits in a cost-effective way
- Design or select options that offer greater energy, environmental, and economic benefits
- Identify opportunities where policies and programs can be used to support energy system, environmental, and/or economic development planning strategies within the local jurisdiction
- Build support for climate change and clean energy policies and programs
Determining the results of climate and energy programs can be difficult because not everything that a local government may want to measure is easily documented. However, measuring results across a spectrum of qualitative outcomes and quantitative values provides local governments with timely information to estimate policy and program impacts and improve implementation. The results can help answer questions such as:
- Is the policy or program achieving its objectives? If so, how and why?
- How well has the policy or program worked? What is the magnitude of impact?
- How reliable is the policy or program? Will it continue to generate benefits into the future?
- What changes are needed to improve the policy or program?
- Should the policy or program be expanded, adjusted, or cancelled?
By answering these questions, local governments can identify the most effective approaches, determine how to improve future policies or programs, and decide where to focus for greater impacts.
Communicating results and benefits to key audiences can help local governments achieve:
- Transparency by documenting progress being made towards goals
- Accountability to funding sources, helping to obtain continued support
- Improvement by providing recommendations for designing better programs
Steps for Measuring Results
These four steps can support tracking, evaluating, and reporting process for assessing policies and programs:
- Plan - Establish goals, define performance indicators, specify evaluation and reporting approaches, and allocate resources. The level of rigor and analysis required will depend on who needs the information and for what purpose.
- Track/Benchmark - Develop a tracking system, establish baseline reporting conditions and reporting period, and collect and organize performance data.
- Evaluate - Conduct qualitative or quantitative analyses to measure policy or program benefits. Local governments can use available evaluation tools for this process.
- Report - Report evaluation findings, assess results, and modify the program as needed. Communicate this information to key audiences.
An additional qualitative approach to measuring environmental results for polices and programs is logic modeling. This qualitative approach can demonstrate why a specific output is produced, what the short term impact is likely to be, and how the policy or programs contributes to overall objectives.
Tools and Resources
Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy
Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy: A Resource for States provides an overview of the multiple benefits of clean energy and their importance. It includes information on:
- The importance of and approaches to calculating or estimating energy savings as the foundation for deriving multiple benefits
- A range of tools and approaches to estimating energy systems, environmental, and economic benefits across varying levels of rigor
- How states have supported the use of clean energy through the estimation of multiple benefits
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
Portfolio Manager is a Web-based resource that benchmarks the performance of commercial buildings on a scale of 1-100 relative to similar buildings nationwide using EPA's national energy performance rating system. Buildings rating 75 or greater may qualify for ENERGY STAR. The tool's data on short- and long-term trends in energy performance can be used to make budget and management decisions regarding investments in energy-related projects. A Statement of Energy Performance is provided for each building, summarizing important energy information and building characteristics.
ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick
The Home Energy Yardstick is an online tool for individuals to compare their households' energy use to others across the country and to get recommendations for improvement.
ENERGY STAR Energy Savings Calculators
ENERGY STAR's Purchasing & Procurement page provides spreadsheet tools that calculate the cost benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances. Energy Savings Calculators are available for a wide range of product categories including dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, vending machines, heat pumps, computers, computer monitors, and copiers.
WAste Reduction Model (WARM)
EPA created the WAste Reduction Model (WARM) to help solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from several different waste management practices. WARM calculates and totals GHG emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices-source reduction, recycling, combustion, composting, and landfilling.
Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Models
JEDI models are easy-to-use models that analyze the economic impacts of constructing and operating power generation and biofuel plants at the local and state level. First developed to model wind energy development impacts, JEDI now includes models to analyze the job and economic impacts of biofuel plants and concentrating solar power, coal and natural gas power plants.