Quantify and qualify project success

Most evaluations of energy efficiency and energy conservation projects tend to be quantitative and focus on short-term and measurable effects, like e.g. the amounts of energy saved over a set period of time. Although very useful, your project may also have other objectives - e.g. a higher comfort level or an improved esthetic appearance according to residents - things that are evaluated qualitatively.

Additionally you may also be interested in broader goals of promoting systemic change in the way energy is used in your community and society. You can evaluate your organisations' capacity to place new topics on the public agenda, to join forces with other organizations and to actively reshape energy infrastructures. Success in meeting the goals set for individual projects is naturally an important first step in this process of more long-term systematic changes. Change in energy use behaviour depends on, and in turn influences, energy production patterns, service and supply chains and urban infrastructures. Change is thus a social learning process where different parties need to negotiate and find new ways of doing things. This can only be evaluated by using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Your project might go beyond individual project success if it is able to contribute to the following social or double-loop learning processes:

  • helping energy service providers to better understand the needs of energy end-users
  • building new links between parties that have not interacted before
  • placing energy conservation on the agenda of parties that have not previously engaged with it
  • helping to set up permanent structures like self-help networks, certification schemes, associations, local energy agencies, intersectional working groups, citizen pressure groups, new enterprises, etc.

In addition to purely energy-related criteria, you may want to define success also in terms of less-tangible, broader and more long term indicators of success. Examples of such indicators might be:

  • the extent to which project participants feel they gained new competencies and capabilities
  • the amount of new knowledge that project participants gained about other stakeholders' interests or concerns
  • the number of new contacts gained through the project, the number of new groups or organizations (not previously involved in energy issues) engaged by the project
  • the number and scope of new networks and organizations created as a result of the project

Additionally, by not only responding to external demands, but also defining success criteria and indicators that reflect your own strategic interests, your organization can participate in actively setting the evaluation agenda of funding bodies.