Anne and I were fortunate to attend IEPPEC in Berlin this past week. It was an amazing experience. The city of Berlin inspired us as much as the conference. It was wonderful to hear more about what is happening in Europe and to see that, for this first time since the launch of IEPPEC, there were more Europeans attending the conference than Americans. There were a number of things that stuck with me this conference but most resonant was the discussion of fuel poverty and the impacts of fuel poverty on public health and in particular childhood asthma. In the US, we talk about non-energy benefits but we stay arms length from tying in such issues. In Europe they are actively looking at how to include these and other non-energy benefits in decision-making around energy efficiency programs, they see that you cannot disentangle social issues from energy, and more importantly, they understand that dollars spent winnowing out and attributing every benefit and kWh is taking away from making real impact.
Street Graffiti in Berlin
Beyond the message of the broader implications of our energy usage, was Berlin itself. I must admit that Berlin was not on my “must visit” list but I left in love with the city. The city was modern and hip with an active and present scene of artists, local purveyors, crafts persons, and entrepreneurs. Being surrounded by the arts and creative people doing what they love, reinvigorated me and reminded me of my past life in the arts. This time, instead of longing for the smell of oil paint and canvas, I left reminded of how important the simple presence of art and creativity is in our lives and in our work. We don’t all need to aspire to creating the perfect photograph or painting. Instead, we should be inspired by our own art, whatever it is, and crafting it perfectly. This could be the perfect survey, research project, company, or cup of coffee. Whatever it is, we can improve our craft and remain inspired by surrounding ourselves with creative people, asking new questions, expanding our horizons, and looking deeper to see the art in everything we do. Even in evaluation!