“Engaging Stakeholders” is a funny term. Presumably it means meeting with and soliciting input from others, but often times it seems it is more like engaging in combat. As a man who has recently started shopping for rings, I cannot help but think engaging stakeholders should look more like a step towards marriage.
Over the past few years while working for the US Department of Energy I had a front row seat to stakeholder engagement within the residential energy efficiency community. In just a few years I witnessed groups like the Apollo Alliance, Clinton Climate Initiative, Green for All, Clean Economy Network, BlueGreen Alliance and others bring together individuals resembling Romeo and Juliet including big business, labor, NGO’s, local governments, financial institutions and environmentalists. Then the patriarch of the country, President Obama came out in support of these nuptials with Recovery through Retrofit, support of PACE, and calling for Congress to fund Homestar.
Alas, like any family, it is important to get everyone’s blessing. Recently scorned aunts like Fannie Mae may pour cold water on this beautiful relationship, calling PACE “too risky.” Your stingy cousins in the Senate may say your Homestar party sounds fun, but it is too expensive, even if the newlyweds think it is a great idea.
Recently I decided to return to the private sector and focus on commercial buildings. The overtures continue, just from another seat at the table. This time I am hopeful we can overcome these obstacles as we focus on commercial energy upgrades. Our nation’s leader, his own honeymoon a distant memory, continues to push for these relationships to work through the White House’s Better Building Initiative and the Better Buildings Challenge. Over 80 diverse organizations recently sent a letter to key congressional leaders calling on energy efficiency friendly policy. Property owners, financial institutions, labor unions, environmental groups, energy service providers, NGOs, and local governments are coming together to call for progress on widespread adoption of commercial energy upgrades. These relationships are built on mutual respect, goals, and benefits, the foundation of a successful marriage. And with sexy projects like the Empire State Building, there is even a little romance in this relationship.
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