This is the text-alternative version of the "Lessons Learned and the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center" webinar held March 24, 2016. Watch the video. See other webcasts from the Better Buildings Residential Program.
Sargon de Jesus:
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us, and welcome to today's Better Buildings' webinar. This is on the lessons learned and the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center. We'll be walking through a demonstration of the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center, which is an online collection of proven residential energy efficiency program examples, templates, lessons learned, step-by-step guidance, and other resources, and we'll walk through how this tool can be useful to you. Before we get started, I wanted to go over a few logistical items. First of all, all participant lines have been on universal mute to prevent background noise during the presentation. If you haven't done so already and if you are using a telephone to join us today, please enter your two- or three-digit audio PIN into your telephone keypad. You can find your PIN in the control panel box on the right-hand side of your screen. To enter it, you press pound, the two- or three-digit number, and then pound again. And we ask you to do that so that we can unmute your telephone line if you have any questions during the Q&A period. If you are listening to the presentation through your computer speakers, however, you will not be able to ask questions orally during the question period. Today, the questions will be addressed at the end of the presentation, and during that Q&A session, you can virtually raise your hand by clicking the blue circle button with the hand on the control panel and we can unmute you. You can also type in a question at any point during the webcast into the questions box, also in that control panel, and we can address those during the Q&A portion. Lastly, I wanted to advise everyone that this webcast is being recorded, and the recording along with today's presentation will be posted on the Better Buildings website in the very near future. With that, I'll hand it over to Amanda Chiu, who is our presenter today, of CSRA. Amanda?
Thank you, Sargon. Hi everyone, thanks for joining us today.
What I'd like for us to do is spend the next hour or so giving you a brief background on what the Solutions Center is and where it came from, some of the lessons learned from where it came from, which, just as a preview, is really from the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, and then we'll go through a quick demonstration of the Residential Program Solution Center. And I'll be showing you the kind of information you can find there and how you can navigate around, and then we'll dive into a couple of examples specific to workforce development and contractor engagement, and what kind of specific information you might be interested in. So before we do that, I would like to take a quick poll to get a sense of who is in our virtual room.
And the question here is "what area of the program do you work in?" Are you focused on contractor engagement, workforce development, marketing & outreach of your program, financing, or other. And if you select "other," I would appreciate if you would type in the questions box what area of the program is under your purview. And we'll give folks just another two seconds, and then we'll go ahead and close the poll.
And so it looks like a little more than a third of those on the phone focus on contractor engagement, one-quarter of the room is focusing on marketing & outreach, 13 percent on financing, and another quarter of percent of the people on the phone are other. Great, thank you for joining us, and we hope to make sure to tailor this presentation to your interests.
So the Residential Program Solution Center is really based on the four-year grant program that DOE administered called the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, and that grant program supported efficiency programs that are promoting full whole building energy upgrades. So over those four years, the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program distributed a total of $508 million to support efforts in hundreds of communities served by 41 grantees. And the awards were anywhere from $1.4 million to $40 million over that four-year period. And during that time, we saw the DOE worked with leading communities that used innovation and investment in energy efficiency to expand the home performance industry and to test program delivery models and strategies and experiment with what works and doesn't work. As part of that effort, the DOE is focused on understanding and documenting that what worked and what doesn't work as a part of lessons learned. One of the products that came out of that work is an Evaluation report on those 41 grantees that was released last summer of 2015, and it included a number of lessons learned, and it also included a process and impact evaluation as well, so over the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program period, you can see on this slide that these are the accomplishments that were achieved, which are pretty significant. They created the grantees, which were primarily state and local governments and utilities and nonprofits, collectively created more than 10,00 jobs by supporting small businesses, primarily contractors; they completed nearly 120,000 home energy upgrades that are estimated to have saved consumers $850 million in the estimated lifetime of energy savings; and over 5,600 contractors were trained, they received some sort of training during this period; and ultimately, this investment spurred $1.3 billion in economic activity across the regions where there were investments.
I would like to take the next two slides to cover, at a very high level, 12 of the best practices that the Evaluation Report identified. And these are very high level—hopefully some ideas that are not necessarily new to you, but if you dive in deeper, you'll find some new ideas and perhaps spark some ideas on your part for your program. So we've organized this into six different key components, so for the first section, we have some over-arching program design and customer experience best practices, and the first one, and I'll just kind of skim through these we'll be focusing a little more on this blue box on the second half of this slide, and then we'll be diving deeper into these in this presentation.
So for the Evaluation Report, they identified the idea that offering multiple types of energy assessments was a factor that helped programs become more successful. Oh and I should mention that the Evaluation consisted of interviews and survey information collected from grantees, program staff, contractors, program participants, and non-participants. So we really tried to get a holistic view on the impacts of this program. Other kinds of best practices direct installs during the energy assessment were effective ways at getting people into the program and through the upgrade process. We found that one effective approach was to provide a flexible approach to conduct comprehensive upgrades. Not everyone has the same resources available or has the same priorities and timeline, and in order to get them through the upgrade, it perhaps might be worthwhile to give the program some flexibility. Keeping the program simple for your customers, we want to make sure that's the main thing we're trying to do with the program, right? Helping them figure out how to improve their homes and do it well.
Then on the contractor engagement workforce development side—this is on number five and on—we found that providing multiple types of training to contractors really helped develop the qualified pool of contractors to deliver our program. Developing large pools of eligible contractors emphasized the idea that you need a big enough pool so that your interested customers hopefully, maybe one of the contractors they work with are also participating in your program or they have some way of identifying a contractor that they trust within your network. Fostering relationships between the program and the contractors, and conducting e quality assurance and quality control are both critical to proven success.
And I'm going to skim through these; the evaluation team found that most successful programs had at least one staff member with more than 15 years of relevant experience. And tailoring your outreach activities to target populations helps in terms of messaging and marketing, but it does not help to restrict participation necessarily. And then our relationship financing, we have these two best practices as well. Offering financing as a component of your program can help customers decide to invest in an upgrade, whether or not they actually take out a loan, they found that offering that financing helps customers feel more comfortable with the idea of the upgrade process and they also found that offering incentives at, most successful programs were able to offer incentives at about 25 percent of project costs. And of course the amount of incentives you offer is closely linked to upgrade process you offer to customers and a number of other pieces in the program.
So if you're interested, we would like to welcome you to take a look at the evaluation report. They're online on the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program website, and we can send you this link via the chat, and you can take a look at the kind of analysis they did.
So as I mentioned, as part of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, the Department of Energy was very interested in understanding what works, what doesn't work, and why. And as a result of that, we developed the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program Solution Center, so this is where you can find more information on best practices and lessons learned that we just touched on at the very top of the level, and that's just a small piece of the puzzle. So the purpose behind the Solution Center is to help programs moving forward not have to start from scratch when they are thinking about what kind of strategies to employ, what kind of program design are you going to go after, and how you would engage the your consumers. The DOE wanted to help minimize trial and error and to help programs and partners plan, operate, and evaluate their programs. So the Solution Center is a living repository of examples, lessons, and resources. And we are very actively engaging with programs, who may or may not have DOE partners in the past, in search of additional examples and lessons learned from your perspective that we can add to the Solution Center. And we will certainly continue to be doing that in the future. So the information is organized around Program Components in the middle, which I'll touch on in just a minute.
So as I mentioned, the purpose of the Solution Center is to not have to start from scratch, whether you have an existing program that you're working to fine-tune and expand, or if you're trying to start up a new program, you can use the Solution Center as an opportunity to learn from others' experiences. So as I mentioned earlier, it's kind of minimizing that trial and error to help the home performance industry grow. And we do plan to continue expanding the Solution Center as of course we learn more and more about strategies that work, tactics that have been successful, and what are the kind of factors to consider when you're evaluating your own program.
So let's start with the framework of the Solution Center. The content in the Solution Center is built around six main program components, or aspects of a program that relate to planning, operations, and implementation. So starting on the upper left corner we have market position and business model. This component specifically asks what kind of organization are you and what kind of constraints are on your ability to implement your program, what kind of considerations do you have to keep in mind, and what kind of partnerships might be most relevant to you. A utility program, for example, that is operating in a regulatory environment where there might be energy efficiency targets or where there are cost effectiveness tests that will probably look different than a state-energy-office-run program or an NGO-run program that isn't facing those same constraints, but might instead be facing funding constraints in a different way. So this market position and business model is really the place to start to flag what kind of an organization you are and how you might need to operate as a result of that.
That leads into our central component around program design and customer experience. So as I'm sure you know, customer experience is really central to the program. If a home owner is going through your upgrade process and gets lost or has a very unenjoyable experience, often times we've seen that they don't come back. They don't necessarily share the good word about your work, and they might even dissuade others from participating in your program. Ultimately, if the customer isn't kept central to the program, the program is not going to work well. You're not going to achieve your goals, so it's critical to have a positive customer experience.
So our program design piece here is bolstered by the three components on the bottom. These are the components that people most frequently think of when they are trying to identify how to run an efficiency program. So first is marketing and outreach: how do you get customers engaged in the first place in your program? Second is financing: how are they going to pay for the upgrade measures that you want them to install? Whether you're offering financing or a partner, a financial institution that you're working with is offering it. Third is perhaps the most important partnership and that's really with contractors and ensuring that you have got an engaged contractor base that's working in true partnership with the program and vice-versa. And if you don't have fully qualified contractors sufficient to meet your program's need, then you would need to engage in workforce development, as well.
Then if you go back up to the first row, last but not least, in the upper right corner you see the evaluation and data collection. And this is how we answer the question of how well have we been doing. You need to assess that on a regular basis, but also most programs have to assess periodically what theyve accomplished: how it looks as far as their return on investments, really. And some of that relates to cost effectiveness, typically. So these are the six major operational areas of a program, and all of the content in the Solution Center is really housed within one of each of these six areas.
So within the Solution Center, we've organized resources into what we call "Handbooks". Handbooks are the primary way that we've documented lessons learned throughout the Solution Center. It's a reference manual that explains why and how to implement specific stages of a residential energy efficiency program. So each handbook contains a series of tabs shown here on the top that allows users to quickly identify the type of information and resources they are looking for. We start off with a description; the description tab will say why that particular stage is important and what you'll get out of it. And it will also give you some tips about other key resources that might be relevant in the Solution Center or other DOE resources that are available on the website.
If you go to the next tab, it's titled step-by-step, this gives you information on how to implement a particular step in your program. And it's detailed guidance on what kind of questions you might want to consider, and it's supposed to be a helpful resource to help you think through a particular question or problem you're looking to address.
So if you click on, for example, we're looking at the "Contractor Engagement & Workforce Development -Make Design Decisions" handbook, if you click on the first title, "Establish standards for ensuring quality work," you start getting into the kind of guidance I was just describing. So here, we're talking about standards for technical work, diagnostic tools and installed equipment, and for professionalism and customer experience. And so, as you continue reading through this particular step, you'll be directed to a couple resources, whether they're reports or templates or tools or program examples, to help you think through whether a particular idea is relevant or appropriate for your program and how you might want to start developing that plan for yourselves.
And the next tab is called "tips for success." These are lessons that are based on documented experiences from multiple programs. All the tips are what we've heard from many programs across the country that have said this is what they learned the hard way, and this is what we would have done differently, and here's our advice based on what we did. So within each tip, it will describe what the particular barrier or problem that was being overcome with a particular strategy, and it will give you a synopsis of why this strategy was valuable and then dive into multiple examples from specific programs on what they did, how they did it, and what kind of impact they saw. What were the demonstrated impacts? And it will also give you what their market looks like and what kind of results they achieved.
So, for example, if you click on the third option, "Establish collaborative partnerships with contractors and communicate with them early and often," we start talking about the ways to help contractors really be good spokespeople for your program, since they are oftentimes the people who interacting directly with your home owners, with your customers. How do you actually engage them and make sure that, as the primary contact point for your customers—that their interactions, their services, their information is the way that you want your program to be viewed. And so many of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found that by engaging some key contractors early in the design process, whether it's designing a new campaign process or trying to address a particular problem in messaging or clarifying financial tools that are available, engaging those contractors and getting their input before rolling out some program change was really a key factor in getting contractors bought into the process and also developing a collaborative partnership.
So you can see a photo of this person in the middle, this is actually a video interview of one of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program grant recipients out in Washington, and she's describing how they engage the customers from day one of their program.
The next three tabs in the handbook are titled "Examples," "Toolbox," and "Topical Resources." And in these three tabs, you'll probably find reports, case studies, presentations, materials from individual programs, these are the resources that you can draw from real-world examples of what other programs have done and enable you to figure out the ideas that would be most interesting to you.
So one example here, if we click on "Spotlight on Maine: Contractor Sales Training Boosts Energy Upgrade Conversions," so this is a case study that we developed based on the work that Efficiency Maine did. They first noticed that their conversion rates were fairly low, and this was a state-wide program, focused on whole home upgrades, and they wanted to figure out how to convert those interested in investments to completed upgrades. So as part of that effort, they asked their contractors to see what's going on, and they identified that sales training would be a useful way to help contractors communicate, not only what the program has to offer, but what contractors themselves are offering to homeowners, and helping them make sure that they're communicating better and more clearly. So Efficiency Maine conducted a two-day sales training, and there were some contractors who weren't entirely crazy about doing this sales training, and taking time out of their day and taking them out of the field, but by the end of the training, and particularly, it's written up in this case study, a lot of the contractors realized that this is actually pretty useful for me and my staff. And they saw a pretty significant boost the energy upgrade conversion rate from 10 percent to 60 percent within a couple months. This is also timed with a short-term incentive offer that had a deadline, so that certainly also helped to boost conversion rate, but they did see a significant increase in conversion rates after the contractor sales training.
Other highlights on the Solution Center, so we're looking right here at the homepage, on the left navigation bar you have couple options of how to to browse by program components or design phase or by content types, which allows you to access all the resources in the Solution Center, whether they're handbooks, case studies, tools, calculators, publications, you name it. And we have filters available to help you focus in on the type of resource you are most interested in.
As an example, I'm partial to case studies, so I would be able to click on a filter, case study filter, similar to a number of online websites that will help you refine the resources to what you're looking for.
You also have an open text search at the top right corner over here. And you can enter any term will return a list of resources that will hopefully be of interested to you, and again, there are filters available to help you refine what you are looking at.
On the right side of the screen, we have the proven practices post. So every month, we highlight an individual particular proven practice that is documented in the Solution Center. And we highlight it on the homepage to make sure it's coming across, and it takes you to a short write-up of what particular strategy we're talking about, and what are some efforts that particular programs did to help address that problem and implement that particular strategy.
And finally, we have a feature on the top-right here called "Shortcuts": these are some of the questions that have been asked on a regular basis, and these shortcuts will take you to the most applicable handbook related to that question.
So, a couple of quick highlights before we dive into our program examples, we have also the "handbook Index-"
And this is a way of exploring all of the handbooks in a given component and also across components. So
looking at the list of handbooks in this index allows you to see a similar structure of handbooks across components that are going in the columns, and what we call program design phases, strategy development, planning, implementation, and evaluation. And we start off each of these program components with an overview. So essentially an executive summary for that component. What is it? Why is it important? What might you - what should you plan to do? And it will introduce you to the rest of the handbooks in that component.
So this handbook index is really a quick tool for you to see and access a specific handbook.
Another highlight is Quick Links. So we've identified topics that are at the forefront of many administrators, program administrators', minds and we've put together a curated list of resources to shed some light on those topics. So you can click on any quick link and you'd be presented with a list of case studies, reports, tools, templates, handbooks, and other resources that we thought were of most interest and are organized by these hot topics.
So for example, if you click on the first quick link, on Branding, you'll be taken to a list. Here we have 29 different resources. And you can select any of these and be taken to more information. On the right side you can see the filters, at least some of the filters, by content type, handbook, program material, program presentation, tips for success, case studies; and you can also filter by program component - those are the six program components I mentioned earlier.
I mentioned in passing the Proven Practices posts. Here's a little more information on them. So these are monthly posts and they spotlight one lesson learned identified by many programs and they include some examples of what some have done to implement the strategy. So some of the recent posts have included offering tiered financing for home owners if financing is an option within your program to help them invest in deeper upgrades and more energy savings. Planning quality assurance for home upgrades. What do you want to think about and how have many programs resolved and designed their quality assurance and quality control plan? And hosting in-home events to jump start outreach. This is one particular strategy we've seen work particularly well. So if you were to take a look at this post, for example, you would be taken to something like this.
So we saw that a lot of programs are trying to figure out: how do we jump start our outreach. How do we bring in more customers and how do we create more leads? But perhaps more importantly, how do we create better leads? And so many programs found that having some sort of in-home event to help potential customers actually see the potential benefits of an upgrade through some sort of a showcase of a completed home was a good way of getting folks interested. Helping them realize that this is a real improvement and upgrade to my home that's worthwhile for me to invest in. And it also leverages the idea of the trusted messenger. You know, if you're holding these in-home events like in the neighborhood, for example, you're able to really build on that word-of-mouth marketing as well.
So you can see here for example, Energy Impact Illinois, they hosted what they call "house parties" to kind of build momentum for the upgrade and they really were able - they also brought in contractors in these in-home events to answer questions and to show where the energy was actually being wasted. Or explain ways to really be improving the comfort while saving energy.
In New Orleans, NOLA Wise had open houses and completed upgrades. And they had signs throughout the house that showed and highlighted what was completed and what kind of energy savings that home owner could expect. And we also have examples here, in Jacksonville, Florida with JEA and also with the Center for Sustainable Energy in California and their demonstration tours. And that's the bottom-right photo there, that identifies what kind of improvements were made.
And so you can dive into something like this. It's short and concise and it's something that we hope is easily digestible and if you're interested you can also get more information. The benefit of this being an online website of course is that we are able to link to additional resources if you want more detail.
So that is the quick overview and tour of the Solution Center. So what I'd like to do next is walk through some specific examples and questions that we've been asked or heard about on a regular basis. And find out from you - well, really show you what kind of answers you might be able to find information or resources on in the Solution Center. So let's go ahead and start. So we're going to do this in the next poll. And the questions are: so we just have three questions here. Please selected one that you're most interested in. And I think we'll have time for probably two. Two of these examples.
So how do you identify or recruit your contractors if you're looking to expand your contractor base? The second question is: how do I learn more about the contractors, the capabilities and services of existing contractors in my market? And the third question is: how do I develop a quality assurance plan for my program?
All right. So let's go ahead and close that poll.
So looks like most folks are interested in the quality assurance plan. And then we'll also go through ideas on identifying and recruiting contractors. So let me scoot my slides along. Here we go.
So how do I develop a quality assurance plan for my program? And so what you might start with is on the home page. Oh - I should have started with that. Let me find...here.
I'll just use this kind of screen shot as an example. From the home page, you'll see the six program components I mentioned earlier. And if you're kind of thinking of quality assurance and how/what has been done so far and what works and what might not work. You might start with the contractor engagement and workforce development icon on the ... right here. Once you select that, you'll be taken to the overview handbook on contractor engagement and workforce development, which is the screenshot here.
So if you go to stages - in the description tab, it's really explaining what are we trying to accomplish in engaging contractors and why would we want to invest in workforce development. And I think we probably know the answer, but that it's really that they are the people who - the contractors and their technicians are the folks who are delivering our programs and they are the ones upgrading the homes. And we need to make sure that they're not only doing the upgrade - presenting a good, giving a good presentation of the program - but also making sure the technical work they do to upgrade the home is of sufficient quality and consistent quality that the program can really stand behind.
So if you go on to the second tab, we have the "Stages," and just as a tip, all of the overview handbooks, we have a tab called "Stages" that describes all the handbooks in that particular program component. So you can see there's Assess the Market, Set Goals & Objectives, Identify Partners, Make Design Decisions, Develop Implementation Plans, Develop Evaluation Plans, Develop Resources, Deliver the Program, Assess & Improve Processes, and Communicate Impacts. So this is not necessarily the process you always have to follow through, we decided we needed somewhere to start. And so we started with "Assess the Market." But if you're specifically looking at quality assurance, it seems like it would probably be under "Develop Implementation Plans," where the description says you'll find - there's information there to help you develop contractor engagement, quality assurance, and workforce development plans that include strategies, workflow, timelines, and staff and partner roles and responsibilities. So if you click on that, you'll be taken to another handbook.
And this handbook goes into detail into what kind of plans you need to be developing based on the program design that you're going to be offering and the kind of support services you're going to have for your contractors. So if you go to Step-by-Step, you start reviewing the many different kinds of steps that are involved in developing implementation plans to engage your contractors. So you'll see here we have pieces about contractor recruitment and enrollment, plans for program processes and business support for contractors. We want to make sure the process for contractors, not just the customers, but the contractors as well, is as burdenless as possible. So there are a number of other steps that we go into detail and we provide guidelines on. But specifically on quality assurance, you'll see this step here: define the quality assurance plan for your program. So if you click on that..
There we go. This will open up. And here's just a short screenshot of what you'll see. And there is plenty more information there on what kind of quality assurance and quality control processes do you want to be offering. So this particular step goes into details about the key stages of a QA process, like the paper review and field inspections. How often do you want to be doing the field inspections? And you know how to provide feedback to your contractors. Once you figure out, oh, you know, Contractor A is really kind of struggling in this particular aspect, we're seeing this same particular issue pop up in multiple upgrades. You need to be making sure - well, at each of the upgrades, you want be making sure that you're hopefully catching those problems, but that they're remedying them. But you need to be able to give feedback that will help them and help you not only correct the problem, but also hopefully correct their processes and their ways of implementing that particular measure. This particular step also has resources for you like the weatherization assistance program's quality work plan that might - maybe you have a more market based program, maybe you have a more income-based program. Regardless, the concept is still the same: that you need to be providing consistent and consistent work. And we also have a number of examples in here on what other programs have done. And we include, where possible, a couple examples of particular programs that have quality assurance plans and procedures.
And if you kind of continue going through this particular handbook that we're in, you go over to the Tips for Success tab, you can scroll through there. You can see here there are a number of tips that we've collected over the years. And this again is based on what we heard from many many programs over many years, whether they're Home Performance with ENERGY STAR programs sponsors or programs that we work with through the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program or they're utility-sponsored programs or NGOs or non-profits or others. So there's a lot of good information in here and these are - if you scroll through, you can see there are tips about maintaining an efficient workforce during your program. Designing a program that provides value for your contractors and considers any sort of seasonal business cycle. You know, oftentimes, regardless where you are located geographically, contractors have a high season where they're really really busy and they also have that quiet time of the year. So you might not want to schedule a big marketing time when they're already really busy.
So we also have ideas in here about establishing partnerships with contractors. How would you do that? And what are some tips for communicating with them well. So if you go ahead and scoot on down to here: Establish a clear system and process for ensuring quality work.
We're taken to a particular tip for this. So most programs, all programs, are dependent on having high quality work that contractors conduct and complete in customers' homes. And many many programs have found and evaluation reports/analyses have found that effective quality assurance and quality control provide a foundation for quality upgrades and are critical to program success. So we also - so this section here describes one of the more popular approaches, perhaps more effective approaches, involving a tiered approach to quality assurance, where program inspects the first X number of upgrades completed by a new contractor and then inspects a specified percentage of the subsequent projects so that we can continue maintaining the kind of consistent quality. And then onsite quality assurance is then a pretty useful strategy of getting feedback -- of gathering feedback from homeowners and also a training opportunity for contractors. So there have been a number of broad range verifications that have been particularly important, including checking contractor certifications regularly and implementing a mechanism to recheck those certifications, not just when the first sign up, but when they continue participating in your program, a year, two years down the line. Making sure those certifications are still live. And then verifying of course, professional safety skills are - that they have those skills, like combustion training. And some programs have also identified other standards. I think we might have touched on this briefly that are critical to the QA process and procedures - standards for technical work, diagnostic tools and installed equipment and professionalism and customer service. So, if once your program is setting these expectations, and documenting them, and making sure that you're talking about it consistently with your contractors, contractors are able to understand what's expected of them. And as they become more successful that benefits you as well. So you can see here in the bullets on the bottom part, there's actually a bit more in addition to this, we dive into some specific program examples of the quality assurance procedures. So in the first bullet, we talk about NYSERDA and their tiered approach. So they inspect the first three projects that they're contractors complete and they from there they inspect about 15 percent of completed projects and at least one project annually. And so if you're interested, you can click on the link to their QA procedures and get an idea of what's working for them. They are a statewide program.
The next example is Bainbridge Island, Washington, the repower program. They created a standardized process for quality control inspections. And those inspections are kind of rated and went from there. So you can find out more about their process.
If you go to the Examples tab on this particular handbook, you'll actually see the second link is a link to NYSERDA's quality assurance procedure and so this is the version from January 2014. And so you can really dive into these details. And so we've tried to identify a couple key programs - a couple really good examples of quality assurance procedures and implementation plans that programs have developed for contractor engagement or workforce development.
And then in the topical resources we also have here. So this where you can find presentations, publications, and webcasts on specific topics. And we've highlighted one example here on quality assurance best practices coming out of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. This is a little dated, but the ideas here are. Here are some ideas for how to develop a QA plan and what a QA plan should be explaining. So they include something about the contractor company and staff qualification requirements, report processes, your job report review process - what goes into that, what kind information needs to be included. So that is the quality assurance example. And I wanted to also dive very briefly into the first question.
And I'm just going to skim through this very quickly. Of how to identify and recruit partners.
So if we start again from the home page and you start getting into the contractor engagement and workforce development component. You're going to be going through a very similar handbook structure. So instead of going through the Development and Implementation Plans handbook, number 5 that we just took a tour of, if you're looking at how to recruit contractors, identifying the contractors you really want to partner with is the critical step here. So that would be the third handbook.
So just briefly, the kind of information you can find here include ideas for how to establish relationships with contractors, because they are your most important service delivery partners. Potential trade associations and economic development institutions that might help you promote your program and any sort of training partners that could help you create the number of trained and qualified technicians in your workforce.
But if you're looking on how to recruit and how to recruit contractors, let's see, let's keep on going here.
If you go to Step-by-Step: Develop strategies for contractor recruitment. This is a good step to take after you assess who is available in your local market. But once you start looking into strategies for improvement, you can start getting ideas here on what kind of effective strategies you want to be developing and how do you want to be approaching this. As we heard from many contractors, I'm sure, participating in a program can really take some time and resources. The contractors may or may not want to invest in the program. So how are you able to make the program have less - kind of minimize that administrative requirement and burden. That's a key piece of program design that contractor would be interested in. You want to be establishing a relationship with the program and the contractor and you really want to be focusing on the benefits of the program to the contractor. And figure out what kind of designs you can offer and create that outweigh the costs of participation for the contractor. And so your recruitment strategy, you want to include identifying contractors - enticing them to participate, showing them what's attractive in participating in your program. And you need to also continually support their participation in your program. How do you make sure this is beneficial to them and vice versa?
And then if you go to Tips for Success, there's one particular tip I wanted to highlight here, but you can see a number that are very relevant. How do you help contractors enter the home performance market by kind of lowering the barriers to entry? And we go into detail about how some programs have helped contractors who weren't focused on home performance before add home performance to their portfolio of services. They've also kind of taken different approaches to lowering barriers to participation, including how to minimize the delays in receiving payments from the program, how to reduce the paperwork burden that's sometimes excessive, or that make contractors reluctant to engage with you, and to clearly state the program expectations to participating contractors.
I include here just a couple of the case studies and kind of information you can find here. We have, for example, a business case for home performance contracting that was a report developed by Building America.
And lastly, my last example here are some topical resources and presentations. In this particular example, we identify - the presentation identifies five steps to a profitable contractor base. As we know, participating in a program can benefit contractors by generating good leads, but that participation does sometimes come at a cost. So how do you minimize that? So how do you design a program that meets your goals without causing an undue burden to your contractors and facilitating their profitability? So just a preview, and you're welcome to go to the Solution Center to take a look yourself. Here are the five steps that these presenters identified.
So that is the Solution Center - those are the Solution Center examples in a nutshell. So I want to make sure to invite you to take a look at the solution center. And the URL is on the screen. It's just energy.gov/rpsc for "Residential Program Solution Center." I want to encourage you to just take a look around and see what kind of information would be of interest and value to you. And if you have any questions, feel free to email the email on the bottom here or email us through the webinar. And we welcome your ideas and any sort of additional information you might be interested in sharing from your program experiences.
And lastly, I did want to also mention we have a couple events going on at ACI National Home Performance Conference coming up first week of April. So if you're interested, you're welcome to join us at the Department of Energy. We have a couple of events coming up. On Monday of the conference -- the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Partner Meeting. And we also have a "Getting Started with HPXML" workshop that Monday afternoon. So if you're interested in that, we welcome your participation. We're going to have folks, experts from NREL to join us and help us find - walk through HPXML and how to implement that in the program level.
And we also have a number of sessions that DOE is organizing to kind of share lessons learned through all the various programs that we offer. And that wraps up our presentation. So, again, please take a look at the Solution Center. Thank you again very much for your time. And we will be sending an email with a link to this presentation and the recording shortly.
And that wraps up our webinar. Thank you very much for joining us again and have a good day.