Significant progress has been accomplished through technology and systems innovation, voluntary, market-driven adoption of higher standards of performance, and a uniquely Canadian research and development collaboration between the public and private sectors. This is achieved with a balance between fundamental research to support new innovations and the commercialization of ideas.
The government can best facilitate adoption by moving beyond simply support for demonstration projects onto work to address systemic barriers that stifle innovation, including market barriers and the lack of consumer literacy that inhibits wide spread adoption.
One of the toughest challenges in getting new technologies broadly adopted in the marketplace lies in moving the industry and the marketplace beyond that which is technically proven. It requires “de-risking” of innovations (including “working out the real kinks” in broader on-site applications) so that broader diffusion into industry and with consumers can take place. Moving innovations from niche status to the mainstream is often referred to as “crossing the chasm”.
In residential construction, there is a modest but very successful program by the Government of Canada (in the Department of Natural Resources Canada) that has achieved excellent results in overcoming this challenge – the Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships (LEEP) Program.
LEEP is delivered on a regional basis, engaging a critical mass of builders who are capable of identifying and incorporating product innovations that are best suited for the region. Working together through the LEEP initiative, and supported by Government of Canada experts, builders use LEEP to reduce the time and risk involved in finding and applying innovations that result in better quality, high performance homes. LEEP makes the innovation cycle faster, less risky and more affordable. The information generated through LEEP projects is then shared with other builders in the region, accelerating market diffusion of the best proven technologies and innovations.
This approach to “crossing the chasm” has been very successful and has led to accelerated deployment of several important technologies - heating and cooling systems, insulation systems and more. Now is the time to resource LEEP properly and promote demand for clean technology by consumers.