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Welcome to the SEM Program Design Tool!

The US Department of Energy provides this tool as guidance to program administrators and implementers who are considering starting or modifying an SEM program, with an eye toward creating one that is compatible with the 50001 Ready program and in turn using the 50001 Ready SEM Reference Design materials to support their efforts.

The tool helps administrators and implementers think through different elements that influence the design of an SEM program and provides recommendations and insights on some of the major decisions that need to be made while designing an SEM program, including:

  1. How much support the program should provide customers.
  2. How long the program customer engagement should be.

These decisions will, in turn, influence how a program administrator uses the 50001 Ready program and the 50001 Ready SEM Reference Design.

Recommendation Overview

The tool will give you recommendations, based on your answers, that will help you as you are designing or requesting an SEM Program. Although these recommendations can be used for any SEM program, they will be most useful when used with the 50001 Ready Program and the 50001 Ready SEM Reference Design. For questions on how a program administrator or implementer can use the 50001 Ready Program, or on the recommendations, please contact Sandy Glatt


Recommendations are based on two key areas that affect an SEM program design. These two areas are:


The recommendations assume that the SEM program is trying to meet three primary goals:

  • Help the customer establish an Energy Management System (EnMS)
  • Help the customer save energy
  • Help the customer measure and report energy savings

Level of customer support:

How much support to provide a customer to meet the program’s goals is influenced by two key considerations: 1) the utility’s access to and experience with providing technical expertise and resources; and 2) the ability to claim savings from operational and process savings. Providing comprehensive support will increase the likelihood that the SEM program will meet its goals while increasing both the complexity and cost of the program. Providing a limited engagement, one focused on information and training, can be less costly and complex but savings are also likely to be lower because this approach relies on the customer’s capacity and willingness to adopt an energy management system with limited support.

Length of customer engagement:

How long the SEM program engages with customers is influenced by the timing of an organization’s goals and funding cycles and will affect 1) what can be offered to customers, 2) the program’s potential energy savings, and 3) the program’s overall cost. Most existing SEM programs have engaged participants for 12-months or 24-months, but there is a growing number of programs that offer participants 24-month engagements with the option to re-enroll for multiple engagements. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but there is a growing consensus amongst current SEM programs that longer engagements allow programs to reap more benefits from the initial investment in the customer.

If you have any feedback on this tool, questions on how a program administrator may use the 50001 Ready program, or questions about the 50001 Ready SEM Reference Design, please contact Sandy Glatt