Case Studies

This section contains case studies of community programs primarily from across North America. It includes a broad sampling of programs to offer a wide variety of approaches and tools used, locations, types of organizations and participants, activities being promoted and problems being addressed. Most of these case studies illustrate approaches that have worked. However, examples of potential pitfalls are also included to provide you with a realistic map of the terrain ahead.

We are actively looking for new case studies with measured impact results. Do you know of any that might make good additions to this site? Please let us know.

All the Case Studies and examples are described in the past tense, including programs that are still operating. If the program is still operating, the Case Study summary is written in the present tense.

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Landmark Case Study Playa Vista Ability2Change  EnvironmentHealth

Playa Vista's Ability2Change program is a great example of a targeted, strategic approach to transport behavior change. It features careful market segmentation and barrier removal, with different initiatives for different people. In just seven months it yielded a 4.9% decrease in peak time drive alone mode share across the entire community (a decrease of 3.5 percentage points from 71.4% to 67.9%), with corresponding increases in carpool, cycling and transit trips. 

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Chicago’s Go Program  EnvironmentHealth

Chicago’s Go Program is an Individualized Marketing program that helps residents walk, bike, ride transit, and share bikes more frequently, while driving alone less often. Participants have access to free personal support, group activities, and personalized Go Kits full of walking, biking, transit, and bike share information. Local outreach ambassadors help people explore their travel options by engaging residents in dialogue and fostering community partnerships. The program also organizes and leads group events where staff and ambassadors answer questions and provide personal support to help reduce barriers to accessing transportation options. Each program has continued on afterwards as a community-based initiative, independent of the original grant funding. This case study was designated in 2017 and is currently under development.

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Capitol Hill In Motion  EnvironmentHealth

Capitol Hill In Motion is a recent evolution of the individualized marketing approach used by King County, Washington State, USA. It illustrates how to further engage communities where most trips are already not drive-alone. With remarkably high signup rates, this campaign also delivered a solid 16% average reduction in drive-alone trips (surpassing the campaign goal and King County’s overall goal of a 10% reduction). This case study was designated in 2017 and is currently under development.

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Landmark Case Study Shower Feedback in Switzerland  Environment

The Shower Feedback program provides households with real-time feedback on one specific, energy-intensive behaviour: showering. Participants receive smart shower meters that display feedback on the individual’s energy and water consumption in the shower in real time. On average, participants cut their shower time by an average of roughly 20%, which reduced related water and energy consumption by about the same amount. This program was designated a Tools of Change Landmark case study in 2016. 

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Landmark Case Study Ohm Connect’s #OhmHour Program  Environment

Ohm Connect’s #OhmHour Program pays program participants to reduce their energy at peak times. On average, participants save100-200 kWh at peak times per year per household. While there have been a number of episodic energy efficiency programs in the past, this case study adds three innovative elements: a focus on peak demand with remarkable frequency, flexibility and precision; rich gamification features that encourage user participation; and an optional level of automation that was not available until the recent installation of smart meters and widespread availability of smart devices. Implementation requires no hardware to purchase or install. This case study was designated in 2017 and is currently under development.

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Landmark Case Study Fort Collins Efficiency Works (Neighborhoods).  Environment

In a pilot from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2016, Fort Collins Utilities tested a new hybrid model of comprehensive home performance (HP) contracting to increase participation and energy savings. It offered a streamlined, turn-key service for homeowner that overcame key barriers to participation such as lack of time to select and meet with contractors, too many complex technical scope of work decisions, homeowner distrust of contractor proposals, and concerns about paying for improvements. The campaign also used a propensity model to target the neighborhoods with the highest potential for saving, and then direct mail marketing to neighborhoods with the highest propensity to participate. The pilot doubled enrollment rates, converted 44% of energy efficiency assessments to upgrades, and doubled average project energy savings. In 2017, this pilot received the American Public Power Association Energy Innovator award. This case study was designated in 2017 and is currently under development.

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Landmark Case Study Energy Star  Environment

ENERGY STAR is one of the most effective public sector voluntary behavior change programs in U.S. history. The program was designed with the goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the energy efficiency of products. ENERGY STAR sets national specifications for energy efficient products that are in the top 20% of efficiency for the product category. As efficiency in each product category improves, the specification moves up, encouraging continual improvement. Manufacturers that meet the specifications can use the ENERGY STAR label on products and in their marketing. Utilities can set rebate dollars based on a nationally accepted specification which makes it easy for manufacturers and retailers to participate in their rebate programs. Ultimately, consumers can easily identify products that are energy efficient when shopping. This case study was designated in 2017 and is currently under development.

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Energy+Illawarra  Environment

Energy+Illawarra is a community oriented strategic social marketing program with the aim of supporting home energy efficiency, comfort and wellbeing among 830 older, low-income people in the Illawarra, NSW, Australia.

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Duke Energy's Smart Energy in Offices Program  Environment

Duke Energy's Smart Energy in Offices program (SEiO) is one of the few behavioral programs targeting energy savings opportunities in large commercial office buildings. It encourages energy savings from improved energy efficient building operations and maintenance practices, and also from improved tenant and employee energy management and conservation practices.

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Clean Air at Home  EnvironmentHealth

"Clean Air at Home: Small Steps Make a Big Difference" is a targeted, community-based social marketing campaign that reduces young families’ exposures to environmental contaminants at home such as mould, dust, fumes from toxic cleaners and tobacco smoke. Almost three in four participants changed some of their behaviors and almost one half reported performing all five of the behaviors being promoted.

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