“Bats” – not “Sticks”: Building Energy Regs Should Encourage Innovation

May 9, 2013 | Peter Graham

It is well known that to be most effective policy strategies need to be organized into packages that optimize the combination of regulations, incentives and voluntary schemes. These three components are often referring to as ‘sticks’, ‘carrots’ and ‘tambourines’. However, our analysis of global best-practice building codes shows that the world’s best performance-based regulations are being designed to encourage and stimulate innovation rather than simply punish poor performance.

‘Sticks’ or ‘Bats’? ‘Bats’ therefore appears a better analogy to describe the value of these best practice building energy efficiency codes. Rather than simply threatening practitioners with being punished for non-compliance, these regulations provide policy-makers with efficient tools for reaching better performance goals. That’s why at the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN), we define these best-practice performance codes, as ‘bats’ not ‘sticks’.

         
             
          Figure: GBPN’s Approach to Market Transformation

I am writing this in the gate lounge at Delhi International airport after a week in cricket-mad India. A legend of the sport here is the batsman Sachin Tendulkar. His performance goal is to score runs – the ball is his opportunity. Can you imagine a batsman in any sport smashing the ball into the pitch rather than trying to belt it out of the park?

Unfortunately, some regulations do operate that way, effectively squashing energy efficiency innovation by over prescribing minimum performance requirements of building elements. The alternative is setting performance targets for the whole building and letting the industry develop effective and innovative ways of achieving them.

The best-practice regulations identified by GBPN are bats, not sticks, because they encourage innovation. The policy makers that design and implement them are the batsmen and women. Together they empower the industry to achieve the goal of saving energy and reducing GHG emissions. 


Peter Graham, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN), the new ClimateWorks Best Practices Network addressing the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings sector.

This post originally appeared on the GBPN blog here. It was cross-posted with permission.

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