The State of Equity Measurement

Research Report

The State of Equity Measurement

A background review for energy-efficiency programs
September 18, 2019


To support contemporary efforts among energy-efficiency programs in their consideration of equity and its measurement—as well as growing national calls for equitable “green deals” and related policies, this paper explores the discourse around equity, and explores definitions and measurement schemes for equity in service fields that could apply to energy efficiency.

The review finds that the state of equity definitions and subsequent measurement—qualitative and quantitative—varies across sectors but has advanced considerably in the post-Civil Rights era. Equity’s analytical and practical uses continue to evolve, but six dimensions emerge from the contemporary literature that are relevant to energy efficiency: 1) understanding the historical legacies of disparities; 2) having a detailed awareness of populations that were affected by past disparities, and of new populations that may be negatively affected by planned interventions; 3) including the perceptions and insights from all recipients or stakeholders at all levels of interventions’ design, staffing, management, and execution; 4) ensuring that the processes for eligibility and application for a service are not exclusionary; 5) tracking differences in service outputs that indicate underlying disparities; and 6) measuring disparate impacts between groups, including ongoing outcome differences.

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