Knowledge is Power
/ In Australia, non-compliance with Energy Efficiency regulations can result in fines, brand damage and even public reproach. MAC Energy Efficiency Group is a Melbourne-based company with a disruptively innovative and successful technology for keeping tradespeople, and the businesses that employ them, well-insulated from trouble. /
ENERGY EFFICIENCY POLICY IS NOTHING TO MAKE LIGHT OF IN AUSTRALIA. A RECENT CONSUMER SURVEY COMMISSIONED BY ACOSS AND THE PROPERTY COUNCIL FOUND THAT 88 PERCENT OF PEOPLE SUPPORT STRONGER ENERGY EFFICIENCY POLICIES, AND YET THERE IS A CONSISTENT INABILITY AT A FEDERAL LEVEL TO CRAFT AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY TO MANAGE AUSTRALIA’S GROWING ENERGY DEMAND.
The State governments have shown great initiative by establishing their own energy efficiency schemes to reduce demand on the NEM. However, this patchwork of policy means that energy retailers operating across multiple jurisdictions are required to adhere to a multitude of Regulations and engage with various contractors to fulfil obligations. Add to this the frequent update of Codes and Standards – and the management of energy efficiency obligations can create feelings of trepidation in even the most seasoned compliance manager.
If any installations are inspected and found to fall below minimum standards, the person who performed the work—as well as the company or chain of companies associated with that installation—could be hit with fines, loss of license, and even reputational ruin by having their names published by Regulators looking to stamp out deliberate non-compliance.
“The prospect of being penalised causes great concern throughout Australia’s energy industry”, says Merrily Hunter, founder and CEO of MAC Energy Efficiency Group. MAC is a cutting-edge company that keeps tradespeople and their employers well-insulated from trouble by training them to deliver best-practice Industry installations that comply with all Regulations. This serves to preserve the value of the certificates they create and trade.
“Part of the reason installers experience compliance problems in the first place is that the traditional approaches used to teach the Code requirements are ineffective,” Hunter explains.
She contends that the traditional approach involves gathering tradespeople in a classroom and placing in front of each a thick, dryly written study manual talked through with hours of PowerPoint slides.
“Many of these electricians and plumbers don’t learn effectively in that manner because it doesn’t comport with their particular way of internalising information,” Hunter says. “But they do learn exceedingly well from watching visual presentations viewed at their own pace in whatever environment they find most comfortable."
EEIQ: An Innovative Online Training Platform
Hunter says she realised such to be the case during her many years managing energy efficiency compliance for one of the largest energy retailers in Australia.
It was this realisation that inspired her to pull together a team of experts under the MAC banner and jointly develop an innovative online training platform, one rich in instructional video content, vividly spelling out the codes electricians and plumbers need to know. Modules are also expanding to include Energy Audits, Workplace Health & Safety and best practice Solar Battery Installations.
The platform is called EEIQ—short for Energy Efficiency Intelligence Quotient.
“Rather than tell users what a compliant installation looks like, we show it to them,” Hunter offers. “The lessons are shown through animations and live-action clips. Learning is much more fun watching videos than reading text. This method has proven results in Installer’s higher recall and reduced failure rates.”
Closing the Loop – Site Audits and Inspections
Launched early in 2018, EEIQ is already shaking up the Australian energy-efficiency sector.
However, EEIQ is not the only contribution MAC Energy Efficiency Group makes to keep plumbers out of legal hot water and prevent electricians from being zapped by code enforcers.
“We also conduct field audits and inspections to ensure that work is done correctly, safely, and that the work claimed to have been done is in fact, done,” says Hunter.
“We’re creating the feedback loops electricity retailers and Regulators urgently need but haven’t been able to implement on their own,” she tells. “These feedback loops help take the sting out of energy-efficiency compliance obligations by giving the retailers boots on the ground and eyes on their contractors. It allows them to identify issues early and take corrective steps to mitigate risks and establish a ‘ground up’ culture of process improvement.”
Interestingly, most of those MAC-supplied eyes belong to women. “About 80 percent of the members of our team are female,” says Hunter. “Nothing intentional about that—it occurred organically but our clients who’ve made major commitments to diversity and inclusiveness through their supplier channels appreciate this happenstance.”
Hunter says she believes MAC—which currently serves two of the largest energy retailers in Australia along with a government authority—is well-positioned to help advance the cause of energy efficiency.
Says Hunter: “We demonstrate clearly the truth of the old saying that knowledge is power.”