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Project of the Week: Energy Empowers

Last week, GovLoop highlighted the Power IT Down Day as our Project of the Week, and invited GovLoopers to shut off their computers and other equipment on Friday to save money and energy. This week, we continue the theme by higlighting the Department of Energy’s Energy Empowers initiative. Learn more below!

1. What is EnergyEmpowers.gov?

Energy Empowers is a Department of Energy website highlighting the nation’s clean energy stories. Our articles feature people building America’s clean energy economy by improving energy efficiency, generating renewable energy and developing sustainable transportation. We are proud that many of our stories are a direct result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

2. How long has it existed and what was the impetus for the re-launch of the website?

Energy Empowers launched in October 2009 and its readership has steadily grown since that time. After receiving some feedback from users, we decided to make some significant changes to our site to make it easier to navigate, more visually appealing and more interactive. We are very excited to share these great stories in a new forum.

3. There are some great success stories on the site with photos and videos already — are you planning to integrate other forms or social media and enable citizens to share their stories in real-time?

Our readers can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/energyempowers, and we plan to provide updates through the Department of Energy’s blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. When visiting us on Facebook, please provide feedback, ask questions and post stories. On our Facebook page, we will also share other interesting news and information from the clean energy world.

4. What are a couple of your favorite stories?

We do cover breaking DOE, clean-energy news, but our main focus is on providing stories about specific businesses or individuals that are growing the clean energy economy. Two great examples are a series of projects in Michigan, funded through the Recovery Act, that helped factories in retooling their facilities to make wind and solar products. We also created a package of stories that tracks the green supply chain in Charlotte, NC, providing context for how the green supply chain affects suppliers, retailers and customers.

5. How do you plan to get the word out about the site?

With the assistance of GovDelivery, we are creating geographic-specific and industry-specific newsletters that we will deliver to relevant constituents. The best way for people to receive this information is by signing up through our Stay Connected link. We are also posting stories on our own Facebook page (www.facebook.com/energyempowers) as well as the Department of Energy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also expect some traffic to increase through word-of-mouth outreach as well.

6. What are your lessons for other agencies embarking on a similar initiative to meet the Open Government Directive?

If there is information your agency knows that is relevant to the general public or an entity your department works with on a regular basis — make sure it is readily available. We have found it helpful to continually ask the question: Is this information valuable and relevant to our agency’s priorities, and what is the best way to present and distribute it? Also, it is very important to work through existing channels in your agency to deliver information to constituents with which those individual offices have close relationships.

Below is a quick video that serves as a sample story:

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