This article originally appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of USGBC+. Read the original version.
USGBC’s Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) program takes LEED-like strides toward transforming power systems.
“PEER came out of an effort led by Bob Galvin who used to run Motorola,” explains PEER Program lead John F. Kelly. “The 2003 Northeast blackout made people aware of how important electricity is to the economy, to the whole country.” The bottom line: The power industry was in need of major transformation, much like the building industry of the late 1990s. Hence development of the Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal program—the nation’s first comprehensive, consumer-centric, data-driven system designed to measure performance and improve the regulation, design, and operation of sustainable power.
Galvin assembled a team of industry leaders who initially thought policy reform was the ticket. Ultimately, however, they realized it was beyond difficult, given integral changes would need to be made on a state-by-state basis. At that point, they looked to LEED as an example of industry transformation; they viewed it as an advanced learning system.
“LEED was the best model we could find of systemic transformation,” notes Kelly. “We think the reason is that LEED focused on transforming the professionals, the people, instead of the policies, standards, or codes.”
Thus, in 2010, Kelly met with LEED’s chief of engineering, Brendan Owens, to develop a similar approach for the electricity system. The team learned from Owens that he wished initial LEED efforts had started with a more measure-driven and outcome-focused premise. “That was one of [PEER’s] fundamental principles,” says Kelly, “—to focus on capabilities that are measurable and that matter to the customer.”