Efficiency Insight - May 2020

Efficiency Insight is the Energy Efficiency Council's monthly energy management update for members, partners and stakeholders.

CEO welcome

COVID-19 restrictions are – slowly – easing around the country. We're entering a new phase now, a phase that requires a careful balancing act.

On one side, mindfulness of our civic responsibility to manage the spread of the virus. On the other, enthusiasm and creativity for the task at hand: restarting the Australian economy.

The Energy Efficiency Council's contribution on that front is centred on highlighting the crucial role of energy efficiency in stimulus measures. More on that in Rob's update below, but suffice to say that this effort is continuing to pick up pace, with the support of our partners here in Australia and experts overseas.

We're getting this message out there through existing channels, as well as some novel ones, including our new podcast, First Fuel. For anyone with an interest in how we can align clean energy goals with stimulus goals, this week's episode with the International Energy Agency's Dr. Brian Motherway is essential listening.

However it is important to note that we're continuing to focus on the big, long term issues facing our sector. There are crucial reforms in train that will shape the industry for years to come, from the Wholesale Demand Response Mechanism to the NSW's Energy Security Safeguard, and the Future of NABERS consultation. We need to address the urgent, but we must have an eye to the strategic. We won't let these crucial issues fall by the wayside.

Finally, I want to welcome three new members.

I'm delighted to announce that the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has joined the Council. We've collaborated with the Department in its various iterations for many years now, so we're building on a strong foundation.

And it's wonderful to have the Facility Management Association and the Carbon Market Institute on board as our latest NGO Partners. These organisations and their members both have a crucial role in transforming the market for energy management products and services; a warm welcome to them and their respective CEOs, Nic Burt and John Connor.


Luke Menzel
Chief Executive Officer
Energy Efficiency Council

Follow Luke on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.


Welcome new Energy Efficiency Council members

Policy update

Expert view: Energy management systems are the new black

Efficiency Leaders with Merrily Hunter of MAC Energy Efficiency Group

Enhancing Australia’s engagement with the IEA EBC Programme

Online professional development: First Fuel podcast and more

Expert view: Data is the key to optimising energy performance

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Welcome new Energy Efficiency Council members

The Energy Efficiency Council would like to welcome its newest Government Leader and NGO Partner members: 

DISER joins CSIRO, the ACT Government and the City of Sydney as a Government Leader member of the Council, highlighting its commitment to working with industry to build a sophisticated market for energy management products and services in Australia. Indeed, we're currently working closely with the Department on enhancing Australia’s engagement with the IEA EBC Programme.

We're also delighted to welcome CMI and FMA - Australia's leading authorities in carbon markets and facilities management respectively - to our already strong group of NGO Partners.

By working collaboratively with governments, industry and consumer advocacy groups, we are best placed to deliver tangible benefits - like healthy and comfortable buildings, productive and competitive businesses, and an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system - for our members, and the wider community.

Policy update

Rob Murray-Leach, Head of Policy, Energy Efficiency Council

Energy in a time of COVID-19

In Australia...

A new report by Dr Hugh Saddler has found that electricity demand in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) was around 2.4 per cent lower in the period 16 March 2020 to 21 April 2020 than the same period in 2019. The relatively modest impact of Australia’s lockdown on electricity demand might seem surprising, but:

  • Household energy use has increased significantly;
  • Many of Australia’s largest energy users, including mines and manufacturers, have continued to operate during the shutdown; and
  • While many offices and shopping centres have significantly reduced their energy use, they have still had to partially run their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems – this is covered by David Walsh in more depth here.

In fact, the lockdown has probably had more of an impact in shifting the geographical distribution of electricity demand than the size of demand, with energy use increasing in residential suburbs and reducing in commercial and retail districts. 

COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on energy prices, in combination with other factors like increased renewable energy supply. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published the latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics update, which found that wholesale electricity prices in the NEM fell 49 per cent in the year to March 2020, from $130 per megawatt-hour to $66 per megawatt-hour. The global glut in oil and gas has also resulted in wholesale gas prices falling 42 per cent from $9.75 per GJ to $5.63 per GJ.

The lockdown will have a much larger impact on Australian oil demand, due to the significant reduction in driving and aviation. The satnav maker TomTom has released data showing that traffic volumes in cities around the world, including Sydney, have dropped significantly during lockdowns.

Figure 1: TomTom ‘congestion index’ for Sydney in 2020

Source: The Guardian


And overseas...

The impact of COVID-19 on energy demand in other countries has been far more significant. The IEA has just released a new report on the impact of COVID-19 on the global energy system.

The IEA found that electricity demand has fallen by 20 per cent or more in several countries, with increases in residential energy demand outweighed by much larger reductions in commercial and industrial energy demand. In March 2020 road transport activity was almost 50 per cent lower than 2019 levels, and global aviation 60 per cent below 2019. The IEA found that overall energy use declined an average of 18 per cent in countries that are in partial lockdown, and 25 per cent in countries that are in full lockdown.

Despite lockdowns in most countries not starting until mid-March, this has had a significant impact on the whole first quarter of 2020 - energy demand was 3.8 per cent lower in the first quarter of the year than in the first quarter of 2019. Renewable energy was the only source of energy that increased in the first quarter, rising 1.5 per cent compared to 2019, while: 

  • Oil demand fell 5 per cent off the back of significant reductions in transport;
  • Gas demand fell 2 per cent, with the reduction in demand softened by lower gas prices leading to more substitution of gas for coal; and
  • Coal demand fell 8 per cent, significantly more than other fuels.

The fall in coal demand was exacerbated by renewable and gas-fired generation displacing coal and COVID-19 hitting China (a major coal user) earlier than other countries. 

The IEA has developed projections for energy use for the whole of 2020, based on a scenario where economies only recover slowly from the lockdown. It’s important to note that these projections are, of course, based on a series of assumptions and should not be taken as predictions of energy demand.

In the IEA’s projections: 

  • Global energy demand for the whole of 2020 could be 6 per cent lower than 2019, the largest percentage reduction in energy use in 70 years;
  • Global electricity demand could be 6 per cent lower than in 2019, with steeper falls of 10 per cent in some countries;
  • Coal demand could fall by 8 per cent;
  • Gas demand could fall by 5 per cent;
  • Renewable energy supply would increase by around 1 per cent; and
  • Oil demand could fall by 9 per cent, returning oil demand to 2012 levels.

As a result of all these changes, the IEA projects that global CO2 levels could fall by 8 per cent, or 2.6 gigatonnes, which would be six times larger than the impact of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on global emissions. However, the IEA states unequivocally that:

“the rebound in emissions may be larger than the decline, unless the wave of investment to restart the economy is dedicated to cleaner and more resilient energy infrastructure.”

The impact of COVID-19 on energy management

While COVID-19 has made many households and businesses more selective about where they spend money, they have also become far more interested in energy management. During uncertain economic times, people become very focussed on reducing outgoings, and many people are spending enough time at home to realise how cold the building is!

We’ve seen increases in the sale of a range of low-cost DIY home improvement products, including insulation and draught proofing. This suggests that there is significant appetite among both households and businesses to improve their energy efficiency. We believe that relatively modest programs from governments could help channel this interest into action.

We’ve been working with a broad range of business groups, welfare organisations and environmental NGOs to advocate for governments to invest in energy management as a cornerstone of their stimulus mechanisms. A recent article from the International Energy Agency strongly recommended that governments look at energy efficiency as a key way to drive economic recovery because “energy efficiency is job-intensive”, with relatively limited input of imported goods being combined with significant input from local labour. Key programs by government here could include:

  • Upgrading the efficiency of government-owned buildings, including schools, hospitals and public housing; this is a perfect stimulus measure, because increased government investment now in shovel-ready programs results in lower government expenditure in the future from dramatically reduced energy and maintenance costs;
  • Support to upgrade commercial and residential buildings; and
  • Retooling manufacturing for the 21st century.

Some government programs are already acting like de facto stimulus programs, including the Victorian Energy Upgrades Program, ACT Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme and South Australian Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme. The NSW Government has just released its consultation papers on the major expansion of the Energy Security Safeguard (the rebranded Energy Savings Scheme).

Expert view: Energy management systems are the new black

By Ross Tunmer

Corporate energy management systems (EnMS) in Australia tend to lag behind the rest of the world. There are several reasons for this: for example, an EnMS isn’t as sexy as shiny new solar panels or new manufacturing equipment, and many organisations don’t see how improving things like management processes, policies and documentation can drive energy reductions.

But that’s starting to change, thanks in large part to the new Business Energy Coaching program now being rolled out by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

What is an energy management system?

Sometimes the term energy management system is used to reflect a company’s vague ambition to become more energy efficient, or to describe an online platform that collects energy data. While these elements are part of it, true energy management is much more.

An EnMS, at its heart, involves shifting from ad-hoc energy management practices across siloed business functions to a systematic and integrated approach to energy performance driven by ongoing cycles of continuous improvement.

 Key elements of an EnMS include things like:

  • Developing an energy policy, to set the organisation’s strategic direction and publicly declare its objectives;
  • Assigning oversight of energy to a senior manager, to ensure energy gets discussed by key decision makers; and
  • Setting energy performance indicators (EnPIs), to help zero in on the key drivers of energy consumption.

Several standards, most notably ISO 50001:2018, offer a robust framework to develop an EnMS.





Many companies already track their energy usage on some level and undertake projects intermittently to improve energy efficiency, however there is usually no unifying strategy or organisational infrastructure that sits behind these activities. This explains why Australia’s recent obsession with energy auditing hasn’t improved our energy productivity: because companies lack the wherewithal to act on the energy efficiency opportunities that get identified in these audits.

You can have all the energy analysis in the world, but if you don’t have senior management buy-in or an organisational energy target to point towards, it’s very hard to get projects off the ground.

How do energy management systems help?

An effective EnMS results in ongoing cost savings, adjacent process improvements, increased business resilience, and improved competitiveness. It can also offer a relatively cheap approach to greenhouse gas emission reductions, thereby becoming an important part of a wider corporate sustainability strategy. Research suggests that average ongoing annual energy savings of around 3-5 per cent are achievable by implementing an EnMS, although there are several examples where companies have saved significantly more than that. Five per cent may not sound like much, but compound this across five years and you have reduced your energy consumption by almost 25 per cent.

In Australia, the opportunity for gains remains particularly large, as we are one of the few countries where energy productivity actually got worse over the period from 2008 to 2016.


Source: Energy Efficiency Council 2019, The World’s First Fuel: How energy efficiency is reshaping global energy systems, p. 13.


Energy management systems are poised to help Australian businesses catch up.

The NSW Business Energy Coaching program

A new NSW Government initiative, developed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), with support from Point Advisory and other leading energy services providers, is giving NSW businesses access to up to $35,000 in funding for ‘energy coaching’ services to improve their energy management systems.  An energy coach is an expert who gives businesses a personalised assessment of their energy management systems, helping them to identify and triage shortcomings, and providing them with recommendations on what to target for their next strategic energy investments. 

The program is divided into three tiers:

  • Small energy users (under $30,000 annual energy spend);
  • Medium energy users (over $30,000 annual energy spend); and
  • High energy users (mining, manufacturing and agriculture businesses with around $500,000 annual energy spends).1

For large energy users, the grant is delivered on an 80:20 basis, meaning if the business contributes the maximum $8,750, DPIE will contribute $35,000 (totaling $43,750 worth of energy upgrades, excluding GST).

Are energy management systems the new black?

Beyond rolling out the NSW Business Energy Coaching program, DPIE is also investing in upskilling the energy services sector in EnMS competencies, with a new program – EnMS advisor training – currently being developed by the Energy Efficiency Council for DPIE.

The NSW Government’s leadership in assisting businesses with implementing EnMS and in upskilling industry to effectively do so demonstrates that if EnMS aren’t yet the new black, they soon will be.

For more information about implementing an EnMS and the NSW Business Energy Coaching program,  please watch our recent webinar on the topic,2 which included speakers from DPIE, Tooheys and Point Advisory.

You can also find more information about the NSW Business Energy Coaching program here, and stay tuned for further information about the EnMS advisor training program in the coming months.

About Point Advisory

Point Advisory is a leading sustainability services company. For more information, visit our website at

Ross Tunmer is Senior Manager, Energy and Climate Change at Point Advisory. Ross can be reached at

Please see for up-to-date information on eligibility for the NSW Business Energy Coaching program and other programs that support NSW businesses.

Are you a member of the Energy Efficiency Council with a view on an energy management hot topic? Contact us at to discuss penning an op-ed for an upcoming edition of Efficiency Insight.

Efficiency Leaders with Merrily Hunter of MAC Energy Efficiency Group

The energy management sector is made up of many passionate professionals – and it’s about time we heard from them! In a new monthly feature, the Energy Efficiency Council will profile a current or emerging industry leader.

This month we’re profiling Merrily Hunter, Director of MAC Energy Efficiency Group, and new member of the Energy Efficiency Council Board.

What what is your role?

I am the Director of MAC Energy Efficiency Group.

What did you do prior to your current role?

Prior to starting at MAC in 2014, I worked at AGL for nearly 10 years, heading up its energy efficiency compliance team. In the years before that, I lived in QLD, working in the oil & gas sector – a far cry from the environmental warrior I am today.

What is MAC’s role in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition?

MAC creates tools to help businesses working in the energy sector to grow their operations whilst maintaining quality and consistency.

We do this by creating online training modules for new energy efficient or renewable technologies, procedures or government programs. We convert heavy written instruction manuals and regulations into animation and film so that people can learn visually.

In addition to training, we provide auditing services (desktop and field) addressing a range of criteria from business energy audits through to site safety and contractor compliance.

What do you enjoy about working for your company?

My team. Much like the Energy Efficiency Council, the MAC team is comprised of a small group of passionate, talented people that really enjoy working together. Nothing is too hard or ‘can’t be done’, we have fun innovating and collaborating on new projects and enjoy working in such a dynamic space. An added bonus is that I get to work with people far cooler than I am.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home?

We built our home only a couple of years ago. My husband has an electronic engineering and automation background and I have worked in energy efficiency for over a decade, so together we designed our home to take advantage of what we had learnt in our careers and the natural resources available to us.

We used a lot of recycled and natural materials in the build process and designed the shape of our house to take advantage of sunlight. We have a lot of windows and skylights in our house (double glazed of course) which provides so much natural light that we don’t need to turn on lights until the sun goes down.

We have high ceilings for airflow, LED lights throughout, double glazed windows, high rated insulation, rubber backed blinds and skylights, windows and/or solar tubes in every room. We have designed the house to wrap around an internal courtyard, which brings greenery, light and air to the heart of the home. It’s a beautiful place to live and work.


When not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun?

I am a mad gardener with a penchant for good wine. So, if I’m not working, I’m playing with my daughter in the veggie garden or sitting on the deck with a glass of wine and a good book.     

What are you currently excited about in the energy world?

I’m excited that climate change is finally becoming a common household discussion. Back in 2006 when I first started in the energy sector anything green, carbon or renewable-related was reserved for the hardcore environmentalists. Now, solar and batteries are an everyday thing. People from all walks of life understand that their energy consumption and consumer choices are having an impact and that there are affordable and achievable steps that you can take today to change that.

Where do you see Australia’s energy and energy management markets in 2030?

The influx of solar is reshaping our energy profile and generation needs. Over the coming years I see that demand response initiatives will also impact this profile and change the way we consume energy.

I’m excited by the evolution and traction that hydrogen is gaining in the market and think that this will play a critical role in our future energy mix.

On a personal level, it’s my hope that by 2030, my role will become redundant. Energy efficiency will be a thing of the past as our homes and businesses will have been built or retrofitted to operate at their optimal levels and kitted out with their own generation sources.

Why do you value being a member of the Energy Efficiency Council?

I’m proud to not only have my business be a member of the Council, but to be an elected Board member as well. The Council has driven energy efficiency to be a fundamental part of energy policy in Australia and continues to build momentum in this space. They are well respected, operate with integrity and bring together thought leaders from around the world to help shape the future of energy policy in Australia. This breadth of network and expertise allows them to deliver well rounded, professional, tested and unbiased positions on how we can effectively transform the energy market.

As a business, when I see other businesses that are Council members, it tells me that they are here to be part of something bigger than their own brand or business interests. They are part of a movement and share a common vision for the future.

Enhancing Australia’s engagement with the IEA EBC Programme

The Energy Efficiency Council is supporting the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources with increasing industry, academic and public engagement with the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities (IEA EBC) Programme in Australia.

The IEA-EBC Programme is an international energy research and innovation programme in the buildings and communities field. It enables collaborative R&D projects among its 24 member countries, providing:

  • High quality scientific reports; and
  • Summary information for policy makers.

Stanford Harrison from the Department and Carlos Flores from NABERS represent Australia on the IEA EBC, with support from a range of academic and industry professionals on Annexes and Working Groups.

In particular, we're working with the Department to deepen the impact of Australia’s engagement with the IEA EBC by providing engagement opportunities with the IEA EBC, including:

IEA EBC participant profiles

In the first instance, we welcome you to review a recent IEA EBC participant profile from Dr Stephen White, highlights of which include:

  • Information on the role of the Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling (i-Hub) demand response in HVAC systems; and
  • Information on the joint Mission Innovation / IEA EBC Annex 81.
Excerpt from Stephen's profile:
"From an industry jobs and growth perspective: A number of Australian companies are pioneers in the field of data-driven building services. The IEA Annex 81 is an opportunity for these companies to showcase Australian capability and identify opportunities for new markets and growth.  It is also an opportunity for Australian companies to influence international technical standards and thereby help avoid being locked out of international markets."

Stephen is one of Australia's home grown efficiency leaders, and has deep breadth of knowledge on the role of energy efficiency in buildings in the Australian context. If you're keen to learn more, read the profile, reach out to Stephen and attend a webinar on Annex 81 activities on Friday 19 June.

IEA EBC Annexes and Working Groups

We also invite you to learn more about the IEA EBC Annexes and Working Groups to which Australians are already contributing:

  • EBC Annex 83 – Positive Energy Districts;
  • EBC Annex 81 – Data-driven Smart Buildings;
  • EBC Annex 80 – Resilient cooling;
  • EBC Annex 73 – Towards Net Zero Energy Public Resilient Communities;
  • EBC Annex 70 – Building Energy Epidemiology: Analysis of Real Building Energy Use at Scale;
  • EBC Annex 69 – Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings; and
  • Working Group – Building Energy Codes.

Online professional development: First Fuel podcast and more

First Fuel podcast

The Energy Efficiency Council's podcast, First Fuelbrings you the latest perspectives on energy efficiency, energy management and demand response from Australia and around the world.

The First Fuel podcast will be broadcast live as a webinar, and shared later as a podcast.

Please click here to subscribe to your prefered streaming service, where you can catch episodes one and two with Anna Skarbek and Dr Brian Motherway respectively.

Upcoming First Fuel podcast live recordings

You can register for upcoming live podcast recordings by clicking through the links below.

Online Energy Efficiency Council training

Capturing the Value of Demand Response

Dates: Tuesday 2 - Wednesday 3 June 2020
Times: 9am - 12.30pm AEST (both days)

Standard fee: $490 +GST
EEC member fee: $360 +GST

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 15 class members (max)
CPD: 8 contact hours; the certificate of completion will be emailed to you after the course.

Click here for more information and to register

Certified Measurement & Verification Professional (CMVP)

Dates: Monday 18 - Thursday 21 May 2020 SOLD OUT
Times: 10am - 12.30pm AEST and 1.30pm - 4pm AEST (each day) + a 4-hour exam, which will be individually scheduled and proctored

Full registration (training and exam) standard fee: $3,950 inc. GST
Full registration (training and exam) EEC/EVO member fee: $3,160 inc. GST 

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 15 class members (max)

Click here for more information and to register your expression of interest to undertake online training in advance of the scheduled October training. 

Energy Auditing to the Australian Standard 3598

Dates: Tuesday 16 - Wednesday 17 June 2020
Times: 9am - 12.30pm AEST (both days)

Standard fee: $890 +GST
EEC member fee: $660 +GST

Trainer: Bruce Rowse
Videoconference: Zoom
Participants: 15 class members (max)
CPD: 1.4 credits; the certificate of completion will be emailed to you after the course

Click here for more information and to register

Expert view: Data is the key to optimising energy performance

By David Walsh

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced building owners and operators to take unprecedented steps in managing shopping centres.

The lockdown has dramatically increased the pressure on operations teams to cut costs and prioritise health and safety. Economic conditions have increased the pressure on building owners to cut outgoings, including their energy costs. However, shutting down the energy-using systems in empty buildings is extremely complicated, and many offices and shopping centres have faced the even more challenging situation of being partially occupied.

Our engineers have been flat out helping commercial business customers adapt their building operations to these new conditions. The data from these sites have told us a very intriguing story about the impact of COVID-19 on energy consumption, particularly among shopping centres.

CIM Retail Energy Index

We’ve aggregated the data from the Australian shopping centres we work with to publish the CIM Retail Energy Index. This index demonstrates that occupancy across our retail customer sites fell below 40% in late March following government-mandated closures of gyms and cinemas, and decisions by other retailers to close due to health and safety concerns.

As a result of these closures and the work being carried out in shopping centres to optimise the systems in these centres for partial occupancy or complete shutdown, there has also been significant falls in energy consumption.

Energy use is down 35 per cent compared to the same time period last year.

This result is consistent across all the centres we are working with as the types of stores closing or staying open is the same in every centre, which determines what equipment needs to keep running and what can be shut down completely. 


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) consumes up to 65 per cent of a large building’s energy bill, which is why streamlining operations to match demand is a critical element of building management strategies for retail customers, enabling them to cut costs without sacrificing health and safety.

Scaling back operations or putting the system into full hibernation, however, is not as straightforward as flipping the switch and walking away. It requires careful planning and management.

Building systems are complex and interconnected

Building systems are complex and interconnected, often comprising hundreds of expensive components and pieces of equipment. Incorrectly adjusting these systems can adversely affect equipment operation and cause costly breakages or indoor air quality health and safety risks. For example, HVAC systems need to be powered down and up in very specific ways to minimise the risk of Legionnaires disease.

In many shopping centres this task is made even more complicated by the interaction of old systems with newer systems that have been added as the centre expanded. Building analytics help building owners and operators identify safe and effective ways to power down their operations.

Optimising shopping centres

Based on this analysis, the shopping centres we work with have implemented a range of measures to  limit energy consumption and cut costs, including:

  • Reviewing operating schedules to reflect occupancy;
  • Locking-out zones, tenancies and floors that are unoccupied;
  • Limiting chiller or boiler operation through lock-outs, staging or widening setpoints;
  • Widening internal temperature setpoint dead bands;
  • Optimising car park exhaust fan schedules;
  • Correcting operating schedules for specific retail tenancies; and
  • Preserving operation and conditions of critical areas such as data or server rooms.

As retailer confidence in reopening grows, we are now seeing a recovery of occupancy above 50 per cent, with expectations for it to rise back above 70 per cent as lockdown is eased even further. This means that many building owners will need to prepare to restore normal operations, a process that also needs to be carefully managed.

However, as the lockdown lifts, we believe that building owners and operators will need to go beyond just bringing their buildings back online, and take further steps to optimise their assets. The heath impacts of buildings will be closely scrutinised over the coming year, and budgets will continue to be squeezed tightly; now is a good time to make sure existing systems and equipment are operating as efficiently as possible.

As the real estate sector focuses on how it can do more with less, and make smarter capital planning decisions to optimise budgets, using data to better understand buildings will be the key to making the most of existing assets.

About CIM

CIM transforms building operations by combining building analytics, machine learning and technical engineering support into real-time, data-driven insights. Click here to learn more about CIM.

David Walsh is the founder and CEO of CIM, David can be reached at

Are you a member of the Energy Efficiency Council with a view on an energy management hot topic? Contact us at to discuss penning an op-ed for an upcoming edition of Efficiency Insight.