Continuous Collaboration: The SEM Community’s Most Valuable Resource

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For Sam Walker, principal of Portland-based Coefficient Consulting, successful strategic energy management (SEM) is built on many things, including long-term and holistic strategies, monitoring, reporting and a commitment to continuous improvement. But above all else, successful SEM is about the people. “SEM is built on the individuals driving the programs and the personnel implementing them onsite,” said Walker. “Success comes from ongoing conversations and the depth of human engagement that can be reached.”

In an industry founded on human behaviors and connection, it’s perhaps no wonder that collaboration is thriving. Unlike most professional communities, in which a sense of strict competition stifles sharing and open communication, the SEM community has fostered a culture that prioritizes collective progress over individual gains. “It genuinely feels as though we are contributing to something that surpasses any of our individual gains,” said Walker. “Regardless of our backgrounds, we’re all in this together. Instead of competing, we’re eager to engage meaningfully for the benefit of all.”

EMA Tools for the People

Across the country, organizations such as AESP, ACEEE, CEE, and the North American and Northwest SEM Collaboratives are built on this spirit of community. These organizations offer gathering points for likeminded SEM professionals with a shared goal of advancing SEM design, delivery and adoption to share their successes, challenges, innovations and best practices to improve their collective approaches and achieve common goals.

Because of this robust collaboration, SEM resources and tools are constantly being piloted, discussed, calibrated and improved. One noteworthy example is the Energy Management Assessment (EMA) tool, which allows organizations to assess their current energy management practices. Two such EMAs, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (U.S. DOE’s) 50001 Ready program and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (NEEA), are accessible for anyone to use. Organizations across the country have leveraged these readily available resources to develop customized EMA tools for their specific needs and approaches. For Sam Walker’s company, the EMAs provided by U.S. DOE’s 50001 Ready program and NEEA’s SEMHub provided a great foundation for a more human-centric approach. “While 50001 Ready is highly comprehensive, it may be too extensive for many organizations and their needs,” said Walker. “Coefficient’s EMA tool is designed to foster more meaningful and user-centric conversations by allowing organizations to focus on what truly matters to them. We enable them to choose their unique SEM journey instead of focusing on issues that don’t align with their interests.”

Screenshot from Coefficient Consulting’s EMA tool displaying a post-survey response output of energy management priorities.

Coefficient Consulting’s EMA tool is an intuitive online platform, built in Mentimeter, that offers complete customization to make SEM accessible to all participants. The tool incorporates data visualization to present information in real-time through engaging graphics. This not only provides insight into an organization’s energy management practices, but it also offers a snapshot of energy management beliefs among colleagues.

“Our EMA tool is designed to stimulate meaningful conversations,” said Walker. “We want SEM practitioners to be aware of their colleagues’ knowledge and priorities. Successful SEM implementation relies on buy-in from everyone in the organization. To achieve this, it is crucial to understand areas of consensus and misalignment. For instance, our tool can help organizations recognize a lack of awareness about specific practices rather than a deficiency in that area.”

Screenshot from Coefficient Consulting’s EMA tool displaying a post-survey response during a facilitated EMA in real-time.

In the spirit of collaboration embraced by the broader SEM community, Coefficient Consulting is offering its EMA tool for free as a resource on Sam Walker is proud to be part of the collaborative SEM community and he hopes that providing Coefficient’s EMA tool encourages other organizations to share their own tools and resources for the benefit of the entire community. “Adopting a collaborative approach enhances everything we do, and that's truly remarkable,” said Walker. “Any effort to enhance SEM delivery and elevate the participant experience will benefit everyone. After all, SEM is about the people, not the tools. And that’s true even when the tools are proprietary.”

Learn more about Coefficient Consulting’s EMA tool at:

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