Hurdling barriers through market uncertainty: Case studies in innovative technology adoption

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Date Published


LBNL Report Number



The crisis atmosphere surrounding electricity availability in California during the summer of 2001 produced two distinct phenomena in commercial energy consumption decision-making: desires to guarantee energy availability while blackouts were still widely anticipated, and desires to avoid or mitigate significant price increases when higher commercial electricity tariffs took effect. The climate of increased consideration of these factors seems to have led, in some cases, to greater willingness on the part of business decision-makers to consider highly innovative technologies. This paper examines three case studies of innovative technology adoption: retrofit of time-and-temperature signs on an office building; installation of fuel cells to supply power, heating, and cooling to the same building; and installation of a gas-fired heat pump at a microbrewery. We examine the decision process that led to adoption of these technologies. In each case, specific constraints had made more conventional energy-efficient technologies inapplicable. We examine how these barriers to technology adoption developed over time, how the California energy decision-making climate combined with the characteristics of these innovative technologies to overcome the barriers, and what the implications of hurdling these barriers are for future energy decisions within the firms.

Conference Name

2002 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Year of Publication


Conference Location

Asilomar, CA