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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Zehr's  Environment

A campaign at a Zehr's store in Kitchener, Ontario, reminded customers to buy products which used less packaging, were more concentrated and safer for the environment. Some customers were asked to make a commitment to purchase "green" alternatives and to watch an in-store information video showing other people making their decision to buy "green."

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Workplace Cycle Challenge Program  Environment

The ‘Workplace Cycle Challenge’ is a three-week long intervention to encourage people to take up and continue cycling; encourage people who are already cycling to cycle more often; and encourage people to cycle to work.

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Whitney Public School  Environment

Students at Whitney Public School were given a homework assignment to take responsibility for their home's Blue Box recycling for one week. The assignment was to be carried out by the students with parent participation. Information was provided to each home on new materials that were being accepted in the Blue Box.

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We're Toxic Free  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Peterborough conducted a door-to-door pilot campaign to influence residents' behaviours related to the purchasing and disposal of toxic household chemicals. Summer students staffed the campaign in which residents were asked to try non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.

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Way to Save Burlington!  Environment

The Way to Save, Burlington! pilot program was a community-based approach to marketing energy efficiency. Unlike many other community-based energy efficiency programs, no new measures were offered and existing rebate levels were not enhanced. The pilot increased active participation in existing conservation programs among all customer segments: residential, commercial, and industrial.

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WaterSmart  Environment

To reduce peak period water consumption and increase awareness of the need to conserve water, a program involving watering restrictions, bicycle patrols and student exercises was implemented in Kamloops, British Columbia.

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Waterloo's Plant Health Care Program  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Waterloo has dramatically decreased its use of pesticides on municipally owned land through practices that promote healthy, vigorous turf and soil. The city's Plant Health Care Program (PHCP), first conceived of more than 20 years ago, has over time become Waterloo's preferred method of turf care. Funding for this write-up was provided by Environment Canada's National Office of Pollution Prevention.

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Water-Efficient Durham  Environment

The Regional Municipality of Durham targeted neighbourhoods with high summer peak water use, and convinced most residents to sign a written pledge to water their lawns in accordance with municipal guidelines. The program has consistently reduced peak water use in targeted neighborhoods by 30% at first, then leveling off at around 17% after a year. It cost $19 per household in 2004 and is considered to be 1/5 the cost of the alternative - which is to expand the water supply infrastructure.

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Water - Use It Wisely  Environment

Water Use It Wisely has become one of North America's most widely implemented, branded water conservation programs, with over 350 private and public partners, including corporate sponsors such as Lowes and The Home Depot. It illustrates a wide range of promotional tactics and strong partnership development, and is available for use throughout North America.

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Walking the Talk?  EnvironmentHealth

In the City of Ottawa, EnviroCentre developed and implemented community-based social marketing (CBSM) techniques designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through transportation demand management (TDM) initiatives linked to Green Home Visits (GHVs). By combining social marketing with community-based credibility and capacity, and by building partnerships with other stakeholders in the community, EnviroCentre demonstrated how cost-effective techniques can help people overcome barriers to changing their transportation habits.

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Vancouver's Employee Trip Reduction Program  EnvironmentHealth

The Greater Vancouver Regional District's (GVRD's) Employee Trip Reduction Program took an integrated, multi-modal approach. By supporting the use of all modes of alternative transportation, a higher rate of employee buy-in could be obtained. This case study also shows how a municipality first developed a program for its own employees and then used it as a model for other employers. Even though GVRD has more resources to draw on than many other municipalities, the program's elements can be replicated by any community. This case study documents a program that took place between 1996 and 2002. A separate case study covers more current details on the public program that resulted.

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User Pay for Residential Waste Pickup in Ontario (Research Alert)  Environment

This research alert, reprinted from an article in Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine, provides an overview of the growth of user-pay for residential waste pickup in Ontario, including pricing. It was written by Maria Kelleher and John Dixie Enviros-RIS, based on surveys they conducted.

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UGA Recycling Bin Feedback  Environment

The University of Georgia, funded by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, designed and tested a recycling bin that lit up and displayed a count with the number of items that had been placed into the bin. The bins with feedback increased recycling rates significantly.

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UBC Energy Reduction Challenge  Environment

This is a great model for generating enthusiasm among students for energy efficiency. To engage more students in energy conservation, UBC adapted a Facebook application called My Every Day Earth to create a point structure for participation that was in addition to the typical kWh meter readings. Users were able to gain points through activities such as: performing 11 actions they pledged to perform each day; creating short films to get their co-residents engaged and thinking about energy conservation; meeting with other students to discuss energy efficiency; and contacting their local politicians about energy efficiency.

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Landmark Case Study U-PASS: University of Washington's Transportation Management Program  EnvironmentHealth

U-PASS is a comprehensive, flexible program designed to encourage University of Washington students, staff and faculty to use alternative modes of transportation and thereby reduce the volume of traffic in Seattle's University District. The program provides many inexpensive commuting options and incentives to program participants, including: increased and subsidized transit service, shuttle service, carpools, vanpools, ridematch services, bicycle incentives, reimbursed rides home, daily flex permits, and merchant discounts. U-Pass was designated a Landmark case study in 2009.

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TV Program Teaches Energy Conservation  Environment

A 20 minute television program that suggested simple, no-cost strategies for reducing household energy consumption in summer was delivered over cable television in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1982. Residents who viewed the program once, adopted some of the modeled strategies. Although overall electricity savings were close to 10%, the participants did not feel that their level of comfort was compromised. Though this program focused on energy conservation, the approach can be applied to any area where behaviour modification is desired.

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Turn it Off  EnvironmentHealth

Turn it Off is a community-based initiative to encourage individuals to avoid idling their vehicles while waiting at such places as school pick-up areas and transit Kiss and Ride parking lots. Replicability: high.

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TransLink’s Smart Card  Environment

British Columbia’s TransLink introduced Compass, a travel pass payment system that replaced 150 different tickets and passes. To ensure positive adoption, TransLink brought customers through a series of messaging that generated awareness, created broad comprehension around Compass benefits and features, and educated customers on proper card use behaviour. It achieved a 95% adoption rate within months of closing the gates, and transit ridership increased 4-6% per year following introduction

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Landmark Case Study TransLink's TravelSmart Program  Environment

TransLink’s TravelSmart program helps businesses and residents of Metro Vancouver make smart travel choices and reduce the number of trips made by driving alone. It includes an Employer Pass Program, ridesharing, car share (including corporate car share), active transportation, parking management, guaranteed ride home, and telework, all supported by strong promotion. This case study also reports on TransLink’s individualized marketing pilot, which was designated Landmark status in 2008.

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The Toxic Challenge  EnvironmentHealth

To encourage people to reduce their use of toxic-containing consumer products, a door-to-door campaign was organized in two neighbourhoods of Metropolitan Toronto. Summer students staffed the campaign in which residents were asked to try non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.

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The Roach Coach Project  EnvironmentHealth

This pilot program demonstrated how a brief, on-site, educational intervention coupled with resource materials can influence tenants to adopt less hazardous pest control methods. Materials were developed for use by others.

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The Residential Conservation Assistance Program (ReCAP)  Environment

The Residential Conservation Assistance Program ( ReCAP) provided a free home visit service to the residents of Oshawa, Ontario, aimed at helping householders reduce their use of energy and water and improve their 3Rs practices. Trained home advisors provided householders with one-on-one assistance to identify and undertake conservation and cost-saving opportunities. As of 1996 the program had been renamed Green CAP and householders were required to pay a fee for the home visits.

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The Healthy Penis Campaign  Health

The Healthy Penis was a humor-based campaign that increased syphilis testing and awareness among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco.

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The Great Strathcona Exchange  Environment

Strathcona County organizes an annual one-day waste exchange. Staffed largely by volunteers, this free event enables people to return serviceable appliances, furniture, or other large household items to useful service by making them available for others to reuse.

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The Environment Network  EnvironmentHealth

This comprehensive program utilized several strategies including home visits, incentives and starter kits to induce households to reduce energy, water consumption, waste to landfill and pollution.

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The Clean Air Commute  EnvironmentHealth

Pollution Probe hosts an annual, month-long Clean Air Campaign to raise awareness about smog, vehicle emissions and related respiratory problems. The main event of this campaign is The Clean Air Commute, a one-day event in which employees pledge to carry out cleaner commuting practices. In 1996 a pilot was conducted to build on the one-day event and measure the resulting changes over a period of three months.

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The Bullying Prevention Program  HealthSafety

The Bullying Prevention Program (BPP) reduced bullying problems in Norwegian schools by up to 50 percent. Actively involving students, school staff, and parents in restructuring their school environment created a safe and learning one, and lessened the number of opportunities and rewards for bullying. BPP had been replicated in American, Canadian, and European schools.

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Ten-Day Challenge  Safety

The Ten-Day Challenge is an innovative approach that helps parents and teachers work closely and cooperatively together to reduce violence among children and teens. Since 2003, it has been implemented in over 60 schools across Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Evaluations by parents, students and teachers have shown significant impacts on the everyday life of participants: more time reading and doing physical activity, more harmonious relationships, better attention in class, more respectful language and behaviour at home and school, and less physical and verbal violence.

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Switch Out Mercury Recovery Program  EnvironmentHealth

The Switch Out program draws on the voluntary assistance of Canadian automotive recyclers to remove light switches containing mercury from end-of-life vehicles. Initiated by the Clean Air Foundation (CAF) in June 2001, Switch Out has significantly reduced the impact of mercury disposal into the environment.

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Sustainable Okotoks, Alberta  Environment

Unprecedented steps have been taken by the Town of Okotoks, Alberta to ensure its long-term sustainability. The community has devised a sustainable development plan that rests on four guiding principles: environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, social conscience and fiscal responsibility.

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