Willdan is a leader in energy, engineering, and software consulting. We help utilities, facility owners, and design teams achieve performance & efficiency goals while improving new construction, existing buildings, infrastructure, and electric grids.

Chris Baker's picture
Project Executive Willdan

I work in three areas of building energy efficiency.New Construction:There are thousands of products claiming to save huge amounts of energy in buildings. We've automated energy modeling to...

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White Paper

Keep Trade Allies Coming Back in Commercial New Construction Markets

Posted to Willdan in the Energy Efficiency Group

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To reach the commercial renovation and new construction market, DSM programs need to engage with architects and engineers (design teams). Building owners may go years between projects, but design teams they work with have a steady stream and multiple clients. By engaging with the design teams, you can have more influence on projects—and enroll more projects—but before a team will introduce a trade ally to their clients, they want to make sure they won’t embarrass them.

trade allies

1. Don’t ask them to ask their clients for more money

We’ve all been in situations where we thought all the details were agreed upon, and suddenly the other side wants to upsell us, or add an extended warranty, or somehow else surprise us with an additional charge. Even if it’s a relatively small amount, it doesn’t leave a great impression. A design team who is just getting started on a project is building a relationship with the client and doesn’t want to have to ask for another $10,000 to participate in an incentive program. It might leave clients the impression they will be “nickel and dimed” throughout the design process. A program that doesn’t require additional costs to participate will be easier to convince the design team to pitch to their client.

building efficiency

2. Make their jobs easier, not harder

Designing a building takes thousands of decisions that need to be analyzed. Design teams are constantly balancing the look, durability, performance, functionality, site constraints, and budgets. Participating in a utility incentive program is usually optional. If it adds a lot of headaches to the process by having unclear requirements, lots of paperwork, or other hassles to participate, they simply won’t.

On the other hand, if your program provides valuable, project-specific feedback, such as comparison of the life-cycle cost of alternative HVAC systems, you can make the design team’s jobs easier. Programs that give owners and design teams project-specific payback and financial analysis will streamline their decision making. It can help them settle on the right trade-offs earlier in design and spend less time carrying multiple options.

Energy Analysis

3. Make everyone look good

If you want to have your program invited to the next project, make sure you don’t embarrass anyone on this project. Highlight how well a project is doing compared to code; don’t disparage them for not doing as much as you’d like them to. Owners and design teams are balancing a lot of competing needs and efficiency is just one of their concerns. If you want them to stay engaged, you need to make sure they feel respected throughout the process.

4. Don’t slow down their process

Utility DSM programs need to fit within the design schedule. No one wants to have to wait six weeks for a utility study to come back if they need to start ordering equipment this week. That means getting a project enrolled early enough that there is time to do an analysis of their options. It also means telling them how much savings and incentive they will get for the various options before they have to make those decisions.

Energy Design Assistance

Program design that optimizes

Well-designed commercial programs can achieve market penetration up to 70%, but to do that you’ve got to make sure you’ve designed a program in which the trade allies want to participate.

What are your thoughts on how to keep new construction trade allies coming back? Please share below.

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Willdan is a leader in energy, engineering, and software consulting. We help utilities, facility owners, and design teams achieve performance & efficiency goals while improving new construction, existing buildings, infrastructure, and electric grids.
Chris Baker's picture
Thank Chris for the Post!
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