Corporate Adoption of Voluntary Programs to Enhance Energy Efficiency in Buildings

EPA Grant Number: FP917168
Title: Corporate Adoption of Voluntary Programs to Enhance Energy Efficiency in Buildings
Investigators: Peterman, Andrew Samuel
Institution: Stanford University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2013
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Science & Technology for Sustainability: Environmental Behavior & Decision Making


This line of work proposes to analyze corporate perspectives of voluntary energy efficiency programs in buildings. This part of the research will attempt to understand how and why certain energy efficiency-related decisions are made in a company. I intend to look at varying firm structures and how those independent structural components contribute to greater or lesser participation in energy efficiency programs. How do internal and external organizational structures, incentives, and policies influence corporate participation in programs designed to encourage energy efficiency in buildings?

I intend to research the basic decision-making processes and structures employed by various private sector companies when evaluating their possible participation in voluntary energy efficiency programs. I propose that this line of research has the potential to break new ground in linking the relationship between government-sponsored voluntary energy efficiency programs and private company responses.


Phase 1 – In Depth Case Study #1 Walt Disney Company
• Detailed Interviews – Structured and Unstructured (ideal 10-20)
- Upper Level Managers
- Mid-Level Managers
- Project Teams and Engineers
- Operations/Maintenance Staff
• Detailed Survey/Questionnaire (ideal n > 50), Administered In-person
- Same Span of Positions

Phase 2 – Comparative Case Study Method (5-10 Companies)
• Structured Interviews (5-15 per company)
• Survey/Questionnaire (30-50+ individuals)

Phase 3 – Develop Causal Relationships or Comparative Case Study (Correlations/Descriptive)
• Statistically (depending on N)
• Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparison Analysis

Expected Results:

Knowledge Contribution: Expand our understanding of organizational learning theories in a new application of energy efficiency. Develop a more comprehensive understanding of how macro-level organizational variables interact to contribute to greater or lesser participation in voluntary energy efficiency programs. Develop recipes leading to greater or lesser firm participation in energy efficiency programs that can then be tested in new fields in which participation from firms is important (e.g., health promotion). Practice Contribution: How can government use knowledge about how companies will respond to voluntary energy efficiency programs to craft more effective policies that create maximum environmental, financial, and social value for the government and private sector companies? How can corporate organizational structures be improved to better take advantage of voluntary energy efficiency programs?

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection
I believe that this line of research has the potential for broader societal impacts in addition to those mentioned above. Many are in agreement that the poor and minorities are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and hazards (Pinderhughes, 1996). It is well within the scope of my dissertation research to look at how successful implementation of corporate energy efficiency measures will help reduce global energy demand. A reduction in global energy demand will reduce the demand for new power plants and has the potential to reduce risk for those most affected by pollution and environmental hazards. It is my experience that individuals within a company want to take action to protect our environment. However, it is often the structure of an environmental program combined with the structure of the organization that hinders corporate decision makers’ abilities to take that action. I believe that my work will help bridge that gap between public and private entities, providing greater opportunity for cooperation and enhancement of national environmental efforts based on the voluntary programs to improve energy efficiency. Drawing upon and potentially affecting areas of microeconomics, public policy, organization theory, technology, and engineering, the aim of this research is to further environmental protection while fostering a cooperative relationship among private and public sector entities.

Supplemental Keywords:

energy efficiency, buildings, energy policy, strategic alliances, public-private partnerships,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final