The potential for saving energy in California is huge. But getting people and organizations to do things differently is a tricky proposition. Energy efficiency isn’t just about new technology, it’s about new behaviors and better decisions. Understanding how we think — and what motivates us to action — is the catalyst of change toward a sensible, sustainable energy future.

Reducing energy consumption requires big changes. People have to turn down the heat, turn off the lights. Organizations and businesses need to modify their processes, adjust their priorities. Technicians have to adapt to new technologies, learn new ways of operating. And, every day, decision makers must make smart choices about policies, programs, and investments to make change happen.

What drives their behavior and decision making? CIEE experts are leading the way to answers — and people are taking note. This social-science component of meeting our energy goals, once little understood, is now sought out by policy makers at every level — from the White House to the state house to city hall.

Behavior insights are key to designing energy-efficiency programs that succeed. And in developing new technologies to meet our energy goals, behavior research helps ensure that, ultimately, they are useable and used.

CIEE has laid two important foundations that are spurring social-science advances. First, nine seminal CIEE white papers have become a primer for policy making, laying out what we know now and where research must take us next. Second, CIEE convened the first Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change (BECC) Conference in 2007, and it has exploded into an annual international gathering that is propelling the field and accelerating our transition to energy efficiency.