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Masks are the New Black

Based on my e-mail inbox alone, I think it’s safe to say that we are all now getting a *ton* of information on how to respond to COVID-19 in the energy and water sectors. Between PPE and the PPP and the host of other acronyms floating in the ether (along with the coronavirus), we are now surrounded by information, recommendations, guidance, advice, and new business pitches and angles.

Which means that we are now starting to look ahead. And while there is still a lot we don’t know or wish we knew about this particular coronavirus, there is a general understanding now that (a) it’s not just going to disappear any time soon, (b) we need to be able to respond quickly to any hotspots that emerge, and (c) any vaccine developed will require a herculean effort to administer equitably - especially among those socio-economic groups hardest hit by the virus. Yet, despite these lingering concerns, we as a nation are preparing to get back to work.

So that leaves us needing to get ready - me, you, our colleagues and communities - to be responsible, compassionate, and firm.

Which brings me to masks. Though an otherwise innocuous thing, it has for some become a symbol - whether of a lost sense of public health, of safety, of community, or comfort, of choice, or even personal liberty.

Hopefully though, more people will try on the possibility that a mask is just a mask - a tool to deploy, along with other tools like goggles, face shields, plastic screens, office schedule rotations, virtual meetings, and a host of other options to protect your health and the health of your families, friends, colleagues, customers and your communities.

Let’s make masks the new black.

At our last webinar, panelists set down their fashionable mask accessories for a bit to present on a range of additional tools and ideas for how we can start to look forward and get back to work.

  • Kristol Simms of Ameren Illinois showed that program participation has dropped roughly by half compared to 2019 but hasn’t disappeared, stressed the importance of developing a plan around safety, PPE, savings targets and economic recovery, and highlighted the importance of communication to all parties.

  • Karen Guz of San Antonio Water System showed that participation is slower but not altogether gone, stressed the benefits of virtual platforms for program delivery, and highlighted the opportunity of “non-contact consults” with clear and firm rules to guide interactions between program staff and customers.

  • Ashley Palladino and Jeff Crittenden of Resource Innovations showed examples of pivots in both residential and commercial / industrial programs, stressed the difference between short and long term pivots, and highlighted ways in which virtual program delivery actually improves program effectiveness.

Personally, I write this in Austin, Texas from my garage workbench - which became my virtual office during our stay-at-home period that AIQUEOUS began on March 16th. But as Austin daytime temperatures are now hitting the upper 90s, and as Texas slowly begins to re-open after nearly two months, I am both cautious and grateful to be able to head back into our air-conditioned office. (Masked) face first, and socially distanced, we carry on our work. If you would like to view our webinar to learn more about how the tools we or are panelists are implementing could assist you, please contact us.


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