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Home Energy September October 2014 : Page 3

and do-it-yourselfers, No Regrets Remodeling . Each of the three pillars contributed roughly one-third of the organization’s revenue. The magazine has been published bimonthly from its inception. This decision—made with little careful thought—has limited the magazine’s ability to deliver breaking news to its readers. In 1992 HEM went online with a web-based magazine. This has given us the technological capability to supply the news between issues. HEM has always had dif culty identifying with a speci c audience. Initially the audience was to be energy auditors and retro tters, and the practitioners of energy ef ciency. But this was a new industry, and many of these people were inside larger organizations, such as utilities and weatherization agencies, and were hard to nd. We also discovered that many “practitioners” were only intermittently involved in HEM’s key areas. For example, a contractor might be proud of his energy ef-ciency skills, but—frankly—pretty kitchens generated sales. Similarly, a solar architect would want to know the latest about energy ef ciency, but the practical matters of building a house took up most of his time. A building codes inspector needs to track code-related energy-saving measures. This could be suf-cient justi cation for a subscription, yet it must compete with the need to follow develop-ments in electrical and re safety, plumbing, and seismic resistance. So a person might be intensely interested in energy ef ciency for brief periods, but not consistently enough to justify—or renew—a subscription. Over time, however, the home performance industry has emerged. These contractors, manufacturers, and trade groups address a much broader range of topics than just energy ef ciency. Nevertheless, they need to keep current on new energy-saving technologies and can more easily justify subscribing to HEM. The home energy ef ciency industry may be transforming itself, but the media industry is undergoing a total revolution. The original HEM business model, based on a paper maga-zine, is no longer sustainable. More than half of HEM’s subscriptions are already electronic, and we hope and believe that this is just the rst step on the path of creative destruction and rebirth. The concept of a “subscription” will give way to other means of acquiring information more precisely tailored to the individual customer. Newspapers have, for example, allowed readers access to a xed number of free or paid-for articles each month. But even the concept of an “article” is likely to be demolished in favor of a new “quantum of information.” Even if HEM succeeds in de-livering the right kind of information, where is the revenue? These problems are being faced by every print-based source. The Internet has enabled consumers to nd articles on HEM’s website that answer their questions. This greatly increases the impact of the information that HEM provides, yet it is not directly related to our primary mission, nor does it bring in income. Should we keep enabling consumers to nd articles on our website? Our future business model—like that of many other media organizations in this situa-tion—is not clear. However, our primary mis-sion remains unchanged. It is to disseminate reliable information on energy ef ciency to the practitioner. The challenge in the next 30 years will be to nd new sources of, and to create new outlets for, that information. How Will Energy Effi ciency Infor-mation Be Delivered in the Future? The landscape of residential energy ef ciency is changing rapidly, so it is not surprising that the strategy for training and updating this labor force must also change. DOE and other of cial sources are providing much more in-formation about the results and ndings from their programs and research. The information is free, so government sites are often the rst place a web searcher looks. On the other hand, these agencies are still hamstrung by the same rules that initially forced HEM to become independent. It is dif cult for govern-ment agencies to name brands and express opinions. Nevertheless, the fact that so much information is available free on the Internet reduces the value we can add by translating research ndings into plain English. Many professional and trade associations are also now promoting home performance and building science. At the same time, they provide training and literature. This increases professionals’ exposure to these topics, but it also creates alternative pathways to deliver the information. Nevertheless, most profes-sional organizations remain narrowly focused on their respective trades. This gives HEM (and other entities, such as the newly created Home Performance Coalition, BPI, RESNET, and Ef ciency First) the opportunity to focus on issues that cross boundaries. Al M i r Senior Executive Editor 2006 Publication of Preparing for Hurricanes special issue 2011 Partnered with Home Energy Saver to launch Home Energy Pros social media forum 2013 Published No Regrets Remodeling, Second Edition 2009 Launched @HomeEnergyMag on Twitter 2011 Launched Home Energy digital replica edition www. 3

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