Posted by Charley Cormany, EFCA Executive Director
Two years ago at the Home Performance Coalition conference in Nashville, a few folks had an after-hours conversation discussing the state of the efficiency industry and the players involved.
At the time, Efficiency First National was struggling financially and with membership growth. From the conversation, it became evident that several organizations were replicating each other’s efforts in this small and resourced-constrained industry. Someone floated the idea that perhaps we could play to each other’s strengths and stop doing the things we not the best at. In other words, maybe we would all be more productive working together as a single entity rather than multiple separate entities.
While this idea made sense on paper, the hard part was figuring out how to pool all of these resources to make it happen in reality. Each organization had its own structure related to staff, revenue, messaging, not to mention their own Board of Directors. As you can imagine, compiling all of these resources into a new entity wasn’t simple, and it took some time. Fast forward to this year’s HPC conference in California where it was announced that a new organization had been formed to support the building performance industry.
The Building Performance Association (or just “The Association”) is an umbrella structure that brings together four organizations that all have a core mission of improving homes and buildings using building science principles: Home Energy Magazine (HEM), a trade publication, The Home Performance Coalition (HPC), an event producer, Efficiency First National (EFN), a membership trade organization, and The Building Performance Institute (BPI), a contractor education and certification organization.
All four of these organizations have overlapped in their efforts, but each had their core strengths, and all needed to figure out how to continue to be economically viable to support their missions. By joining forces, they will be able to streamline efforts and work together to more effectively advocate for and support the home performance industry.
Now that it exists, what does the Association look like and what will it be doing?
In the non-profit world, the “501” structure dictates how you can operate. Three of the organizations that came together to form the Association were formed as 501c(6) non-profits but one, BPI, was a 501c(3). The biggest difference between these is that c(6) organizations can participate in lobbying efforts, while c(3) organizations are eligible for grants but can’t lobby. Moving forward, the Association will be a 501c(6), but BPI will retain its 501c(3) status, along with its own branding.
To provide equal representation, the Association’s board is made up of an equal number of representatives from each organization’s previous boards, plus a few new players to bring in a fresh perspective. Keith Aldridge was selected to be the interim CEO and is now the go-to contact for the organization as a whole.
At this stage of the game, I think of the Association as a car sitting on the driveway with a half-full tank of gas. The vehicle is in place, ready to go. The question is, to where? This is, in effect, where we are today. Where the Association goes is up to the feedback and support provided from the industry and the individuals like you.
Some of what will happen is obvious–the former HEM will serve as the communications platform, the former HPC will produce industry conferences, the former EFN will work on building new chapters, and growing membership and BPI will focus on education and certification. Other elements, such as membership categories, dues structure, member benefits, and what advocacy efforts to concentrate on first, are still being decided on.
The key thing to recognize is that this is all new and nothing is set in stone, which means that this merger offers a huge opportunity for anyone interested in the building performance industry. We need you to provide input and feedback and help shape the direction of the organization. Please let us know where you think the organization should go and what would be the most beneficial for your situation. Now is the time to send in suggestions and feedback and help shape the organization to meet everyone’s needs.
Finally, what does the creation of the Association mean for Efficiency First California?
Well first off, we are not rebranding, at least not at this point. However, the national entity of Efficiency First will go away, as will HPC and HEM. These will all legally be replaced by the Association. As I mentioned previously, BPI will continue as an entity under the Association umbrella. There will likely be other entities added under the Association umbrella at a later date.
The next thing to be aware of is all of the benefits we offer via Efficiency First national will still be available, and hopefully, we can provide more to members as the organization grows. Locally, Efficiency First California will continue to focus our efforts and resources on the California market, which is changing rapidly.
EFCA will be active in helping shape the new organization. We have joined a sub-committee dedicated to state and regional planning. Our technology team will be supporting the Association, assisting with software and other technology required to create a robust trade organization. In short, we will be a part of the conversation and will be actively involved in shaping the direction and purpose of the new organization.
There are two aspects of this new structure that we feel are critical to its success and that we will continue to advocate for. The first is that it must be contractor-centric–nothing will get done at scale unless we recognize and support contractors.
The second is that the organization must be flexible enough to identify trends as the industry changes and evolves. A great example of this is the shift from overall energy savings to greenhouse gas reductions in California and the trend towards to pay for performance solutions in the residential marketplace. The organization needs to be agile enough to support these types of paradigm shifts and not get stuck in the business models and roles from days gone by.
It is an exciting time to be a part of the industry. Now, more than ever, the industry–and more specifically the Association–needs to hear from you directly. What should the Association do? Who should it represent? Where do we go from here? There are many paths to choose from, and not all of them make sense. It’s time to share your feedback and provide your input on where you feel the needs are based on your situation. We are all ears and want to hear your perspective.
To make your positions and comments a part of the conversation I encourage you to respond directly to me at the following email. I will make sure that your perspective is presented to the CEO and the Board of the Association. Now is the time to provide feedback, and we are all ears. I am looking forward to hearing your perspective.
Efficiency First California