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Office of Energy Efficiency Communications Study

Subject Matter

The purpose of this research was to explore perceptions and understanding of energy efficiency and related issues to help promote energy efficiency among Canadian businesses and other institutions. Areas of investigation included the perceived importance of energy efficiency, knowledge of related issues, organizational behaviour with respect to energy efficiency (e.g. action taken, type of action, etc.), barriers and incentives to action, awareness and perceptions of the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), and a range of information and communications-related issues. In addition to the main focus of the study, a set of interviews was conducted with a subset of participants to evaluate advertising material produced by the OEE.


A total of 25 in-depth interviews were conducted by phone with representatives of business, business associations, media, and government. There was a good mix within each group with respect to other criteria (e.g. business size, sector, region). The interviews were semi-structured in nature, lasted 45-60 minutes, and were distributed across Canada. A one-page letter describing the purpose and nature of the research was faxed in advance to potential interviewees. Interviews with businesses were conducted with the vice president of operations or an equivalent. Media interviews were conducted with journalists of daily newspapers and trade magazines who were responsible for energy-related articles. Interviews with government were with middle management at the federal and municipal levels. At the same time as this research, a survey was conducted on related issues with corporate executives using a syndicated study of senior executives.

This study involved the following challenges:

  • It was important to include participants from a variety of sectors (business, business associations, media, government) so as to obtain as many relevant perspectives as possible. To achieve this, a detailed sample frame was designed with a good mix within each sector and with respect to other criteria as well (e.g. business size, sector, region).
  • In addition to conducting the interviews, the client wanted to obtain feedback on specific ads both past ads and those in a prototype stage promoting energy efficiency. This involved asking individuals who had already participated in an interview if they would be willing to conduct a second, briefer interview about the ads. Copies of the ads were faxed to a subset of 7-8 interviewees who consented to review the ads. These individuals were then contacted at a scheduled time and interviewed about the ads.
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