Case Study: Build It Green

Here’s how Build It Green uses FormAssembly to allow Salesforce Communities users to update, create, and collaborate on the same records.

Build It Green (BIG) is a nonprofit organization that runs public programs to incentivize people to build and renovate greener homes in California.

The Energy Network Multifamily Program, run by Build It Green, is dedicated to making multifamily buildings greener in Los Angeles county. Property owners get money back from local utility companies for implementing energy efficiency measures.

This program involves a 3-phase process: (1) An energy efficiency rater enrolls the project, reserving the incentive money. (2) Once the project is approved for the incentive money, the rater will submit a full assessment report around how the building can best save energy. (3) Once the property owner has completed the work, they can receive the full incentive.

Build It Green decided to implement the program process through FormAssembly and Salesforce Communities to create a seamless experience for people who log in and submit projects.

An Outdated System

“The reason we wanted to use FormAssembly was because the standard Salesforce pages — such as the standard record create and the record edit page — just doesn’t give us nearly the kind of UI flexibility and data quality we need, plus the completeness that we’re looking for with these records,” said Matthew Souther, Information Systems Manager.

Previously, Build It Green was using a different Salesforce instance that was lacking in terms of direct adoption. The earlier system used another form builder and data collection tool with insufficient functionality.

“Those forms couldn’t identify the user or prefill anything. It wasn’t serving the property owners and raters, who were just emailing our staff because they weren’t able to go in and see the status of anything, or update anything,” said Matthew. “It was just another login and password that they had to remember. There was no benefit to using that system.”

Seamless and Effective

Thanks to FormAssembly, both property owners and energy efficiency raters can now collaborate on the same records within the Salesforce Communities Portal. Owners and raters can effectively manage their accounts, projects, and the individuals within their accounts. Raters can also update the active certifications they’re required to maintain.

“FormAssembly really takes the Salesforce integration to a new level,” said Matthew. “Repeatable sections, repeatable fields, AND being able to prefill — that’s a powerful set of tools that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”

Instead of relying on the standard Salesforce edit pages, owners and raters can update existing records and create new accounts through FormAssembly forms embedded within the Salesforce Communities framework. “We’re excited about what we’ve done here to make this really seamless,” said Matthew.

FormAssembly also makes it possible for Build It Green’s Salesforce admins to use formula fields effectively. The staff uses images and hyperlinks in formula fields, creating dynamically different actions that can take place. “We can direct people to different forms, supply different URL parameters… It’s a great way to ensure that the kinds of updates you want people to be making, are happening at the right time.”

Robust Data Security

FormAssembly’s Salesforce authentication options allow Build It Green to implement robust record security.

With authentication, staff can pass into FormAssembly the User ID of the person who’s logged in, and traverse the user’s data relationships. To prevent users from updating accounts that aren’t theirs, the FormAssembly forms are configured to use a dependent lookup based on the User ID, so only the associated accounts will be available to update by the user. The staff set a number of additional criteria for the account lookup so that the account must match the URL parameters or fulfill other specific requirements. Through FormAssembly’s smart logic, staff can customize each form to restrict user permissions and enforce data security.

Above and Beyond

Build It Green officially launched the new portal on July 1, 2016 with six embedded FormAssembly forms. “It’s a system where users can see, update, create, and manage their records — and manage people under accounts. It’s a tremendous help, driving adoption and cutting down on manual maintenance that our staff had to do. It’s above and beyond timesaving. It’s huge for us,” said Matthew.

From the first 7 weeks with the new system, the staff have seen over 100 logins by 11 enrolled energy raters and 31 full submissions related to 15 large-scale apartment building energy efficiency upgrades. “It’s important to demonstrate that we can implement sensible systems. FormAssembly has helped us improve data quality and minimize confusions around these incentive programs,” said Matthew. “It’s been a big success overall.”

Happy Staff, Happy Users

Build It Green shared a few notes from their team and users:

“I would like to emphasize [Build It Green] developed this portal utilizing the ‘point-and-click’ tools from Salesforce and FormAssembly with limited help from our engineer team, pushing the limits of ‘point-and-click’ application development.”

—Danny Teng, BIG’s Director of Information Systems

“This is a huge improvement for our [program] implementation, increasing efficiency, and better serving our customers.”

—A director at BIG

“The new portal looks great, I am sure it is the culmination of a lot of effort on your part. Thank you… We look forward to working with the portal and getting more familiar with it.”

—A VP at an energy rating company

“Thanks again ALL for making this a BIG success! Feedback from our Raters today has been very positive!”

—A program staff member, the day of system launch


Many thanks to Build it Green for sharing their story! Interested in trying FormAssembly for yourself? Request a free, two-week trial.

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