ing practices remains largely unrealized, partly due to the political failure to develop a national set of performance standards applicable at the local level. What is technically attractive may or may not be politically realistic, for reasons that are not well understood.
In short, while there is a relatively well-developed body of knowledge that can be applied to developing energy programs for energy users, especially individuals and households, much less is known about how to design and implement policies to change the behavior of manufacturers, lenders, designers, and other intermediaries in the energy field. Part of the problem is that a complex political process is involved in dealing with intermediaries, many of whom are formidable political actors. They can exert great influence when they see an energy proposal, rightly or wrongly, as threatening their interests. There is little reliable knowledge about how to resolve political impasses caused by a divergence of interests between a group of energy users and a group of producers or intermediaries. Sometimes a manufacturer may become convinced to reassess its interests, as the automobile industry seems to have done in the case of fuel-efficient cars. Sometimes energy users’ interests may be successfully mobilized against the interests of an intermediary group, or the balance of forces among affected intermediaries may be such as to promote an energy policy to which one major interest is opposed. But there is no research knowledge that enables predictions of which of these outcomes is likely.
Given the limited available knowledge, we emphasize a few relatively simple points. First, intermediaries are often at least as important as energy users for influencing energy use. Policy makers and the public would do well to look carefully at intermediaries as foci for action.
Second, intermediaries are political actors with some power to promote or interfere with the implementation of policies that affect them. For those who see a national interest in energy efficiency, there is great potential support as well as strong opposition from intermediaries—finding allies may be politically critical. It should be remembered that intermediaries sometimes reassess their interests. For example, the idea of performance standards or goals for buildings may at first strike architects or builders as unwarranted regulatory interference. But when there is low demand in the market for new construction, a performance standard may look more attractive: it may create a demand for design services and set a target for upgrading old buildings. Because of the special risks associated with energy-efficient innovations for some private-sector intermediaries, they have a disincentive to invest in national goals unless there is a return available for them. Therefore, if a public interest in energy efficiency is accepted, attention must be given to overcoming barriers to change among intermediaries.
Third, intermediaries that innovate in energy efficiency have a stake in educating their potential customers to the value of their innovations—