May 20, 2014

The FEMP Awards Program: Fostering Institutional Change and Energy Management Excellence


This report assesses the use of institutional change principles and the institutional impact of award-winning projects through interviews with 22 Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (DOE FEMP) award winners. Award winners identified institutional facilitators and barriers in their projects and programs as well as factors in their implementation processes, thus providing information that can guide other efforts. We found that award winners do use strategies based on eight principles of institutional change, most frequently in terms of making changes to infrastructure, engaging leadership, and capitalizing on multiple motivations for making an energy efficiency improvement. The principles drawn on the least often were commitment and social empowerment. Award winners also faced five major types of obstacles that were institutional in nature: lack of resources, constraints of rules, psychological barriers, lack of information, and communication problems. We also used the seven categories of Energy Management Excellence (EME) as a lens to interpret the interview data and assess whether these categories relate to established institutional change principles. We found that the eight principles reflect strategies that have been found to be useful in improving energy efficiency in organizations, whereas the EME categories capture more of a blend of social contextual factors and strategies. The EME categories fill in some of the social context gaps that facilitate institutional change and energy management excellence, for example, personal persistence, a culture that supports creativity and innovation, regular engagement with tenants, contractors, and staff at all levels. Taking together the use of principles, EME criteria, and obstacles faced by interviewees, we make recommendations for how FEMP can better foster institutional change in federal agencies.

Revised: June 27, 2014 | Published: May 20, 2014


McDermott C., and E.L. Malone. 2014. The FEMP Awards Program: Fostering Institutional Change and Energy Management Excellence Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.