Procurement holds the key to achieving significant energy savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions in organizations. Reducing emissions is an increasing priority for organizations in California, and 15% of the state’s GHG emissions come from electric power. The Empower Procurement program targets those GHG emissions by helping organizations purchase energy efficient and clean energy technologies.
A Berkeley Lab study projected that complying with federal energy efficient purchasing requirements could save the government as much as $310M in operational energy costs and more than one million tons of CO2e annually. The Empower Procurement (hereafter “Empower”) program works to achieve these significant savings in California and help large organizations reach their decarbonization goals.
The Empower program works to reduce these barriers and simplify the complex procurement process. Our goals are to:
- Reduce organizations' energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions
- Forge new market pathways for clean energy technologies
- Reduce costs and administrative burden of buying clean energy technology for large buyers
Institutions are often presented with a host of procedural obstacles that complicate the procurement process and hinder the adoption of clean energy technologies. The Empower team uses the five-step framework for institutional change to structure its program offerings and help organizations establish a process for continual improvement at their site.
The SO Group uses the five-step framework to assist with the development of the Empower program’s six procurement initiatives tailored to address common challenges that buyers and sellers face with purchasing sustainable products and services. We lead the Empower program’s initiatives as a consulting service for organizations’ procurement practices and providing tools for organizations to adopt standardized acquisition language.
Under the consulting initiative, the SO Group takes a deep dive into each client organization to learn about its existing procurement practices and identify its main barriers with purchasing clean energy technologies. We utilize the five-step framework for institutional change when consulting client organizations.
As part of the first step “Identifying Institutional Barriers”, we use the Roles, Rules, and Tool (RRT) methodology to assess how our program offerings will best help institutions by determining:
The information gathered in this consulting initiative informs the implementation of our program’s other initiatives and identifies any need for additional tools or services.
“Developing contract documents” is cited as a frequent bottleneck for organizations purchasing clean energy technologies. To address this challenge, the SO Group works with client organizations to standardize and enhance the clarity of their acquisition language to prioritize energy efficient and clean energy technologies. We develop a package of contract language that is tailored to the client organization’s needs and includes resources like cut-and-paste language, contract templates, technical specifications, and more.
Research and Resources
The SO Group researches the intricacies of the buyer and seller market for clean energy technologies in California. Our research helps the Empower program better understand the products and services marketplace for clean energy technology and formulate solutions that will reduce transaction costs and improve information flow.
This exploratory study looks to better understand the processes through which large organizations purchase sustainable energy technologies and what challenges they experience during that process. The bar graph below shows the results of survey responses from large purchasers in California when asked to identify common barriers to purchasing clean energy technologies.
The Empower program is tackling the top two most frequent barriers, high cost and lack of financing options, by encouraging and supporting market growth for clean energy technologies.
In the first webinar of the Selling Sustainability series, the SO Group and Prospect Silicon Valley present survey and assessment results highlighting key barriers, opportunities and motivations for buyers and sellers of clean energy technologies.
This policy development webinar was delivered to key staff at California Community Colleges as part of the Empower program's consulting initiative. We provide insights into essential components to include in a sustainable purchasing policy to maximize energy savings.
The second installment in the Policy Development Webinar Series delivered to California Community College staff delved into how sustainable procurement policy can enhance energy savings in existing procurement processes across an organization. Our team walked through how policy influences the purchase of energy efficient products in three different purchasing scenarios common to an organization; one-off buys, MRO contracts, and new construction.
This webinar dives into how purchasing officers can cut energy costs and carbon emissions for their organization through effective solicitation language. Our team walks through the types of solicitations to considers, what sections in a solicitation need attention to ensure buyers receive energy-efficient products and provides different examples of effective language in solicitations.
Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC): SPLC is a nonprofit organization that supports and recognizes purchasing leadership that accelerates the transition to a sustainable future.
ecomedes: Ecomedes is a software database that helps enterprises reduce costs and impacts through optimized product purchasing.
Since the Empower program’s conception in early 2018, the SO Group has been conducting market research and developing the program offerings. We are currently in our pilot program launch for all of our services.
If you are a large institution interested in reducing your energy consumption and participating in the pilot launch of our program offerings, reach out to the Berkeley Lab program lead Gerald Robinson for more details.
The SO Group works with these partner organizations to achieve the Empower program’s goals:
- California Energy Commission
- Prospect Silicon Valley
- Energy Solutions
- ZNE Alliance
- TerraVerde Energy
Visit the Empower Procurement program website to learn more about the program and its partners.