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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Canada-Wide Ban on Menthol Cigarettes  

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Landmark Case Study Heat Loss Images, Norm Appeals Raise Impacts in Medicine Hat  Environment

A Randomized Controlled Trial tested the impacts of providing consumers, on their monthly utility bills, with high-resolution infrared images of their houses, information about their heat loss relative to their neighbors, and estimated savings from improving their home’s insulation and air tightness. This treatment was twice as effective as a traditional Home Energy Report (HER) treatment. This demonstrates the power of visual cues that help make the intangible more vivid, concrete, and actionable. This case study also illustrates how norm appeals can backfire when descriptive norms are provided to those who are already doing “better” than most, without also providing an affirming injunctive norm. Designated a Landmark case study in 2020.

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Landmark Case Study Seattle’s Just One Trip Phase II  EnvironmentHealth

Just One Trip Phase II illustrates the use of Propensity Modelling / Predictive Analysis, Street Ambassadors, Quality Online User Experience (UX), and trip planning to reduce the proportion of single-occupant car trips in Seattle WA, USA. It engaged over 21,000 people and on average participants reduced four drive-alone trips per week per person.

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Landmark Case Study City of Austin’s Leave Time Travel Incentive  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Austin reduced employee commute travel by one million vehicle miles within six months of making its Leave Time Reward (LTR) a permanent incentive. During this period, the percentage of drive-alone trips fell from 53% to 41%. Attribution of these impacts to the City’s time off incentive policy is strengthened because that policy was introduced in the pilot study, then withdrawn after the pilot, then later reintroduced for the permanent program (Reversal Design.)

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Way to Go Durham  Environment

This case study covers the formative research and pilot testing of the City of Durham’s Way to Go program with City staff and local university students. It illustrates the value of A/B testing and Randomized Control Trials for evaluating alternative program tactics. It exemplifies the effective use of personalized commute plans distributed en-masse and shows that they can have a substantial impact on travel behavior, even with no added incentives.

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London Hydro’s Price Plan Pilot Cuts Peak Use  Environment

London Hydro ran a Randomized Control Trial to test the impacts of real time information (RT), and critical peak pricing (CPP) on peak time residential energy use. CPP participants delivered summer On-Peak and Mid-Peak energy savings that were statistically significant at the 90% confidence level. Adding RT to CPP did not make much difference. Both groups reduced their daily On-Peak consumption by approximately 5% on average, and their Mid-Peak consumption by approximately 3% on average.

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Energy Cat Game  Environment

The Energy Cat computer game was piloted with social housing residents in Plymouth, United Kingdom, to motivate and help them learn about affordable, energy-saving steps they could take in their homes. The game provided an average electricity saving of 3.46% and an average gas saving of 7.48%.

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Landmark Case Study California’s Energy Conservation Competition  Environment

Participants in California’s Energy Conservation Competition work to change energy conservation behaviors in their schools relating to lighting, plug-loads, and mechanical systems. They also develop campaigns to encourage fellow students to communicate with teachers, peers, and administrators about energy conservation practices. This comprehensive program cuts school energy bills by 5% to 15%, and integrates climate education and energy efficiency, with linkages to hands-on job training and career development. Designated a Landmark case study in 2020.

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Day Zero: Cape Town Uses Fear Appeal to Avoid Running Out of Water  Environment


Fear appeals must be carefully considered as they can too-easily backfire and discourage people from taking in and acting on our messages. And why spread fear unnecessarily? This case study illustrates an appropriate and effective use of a fear appeal to reduce water consumption in Cape Town South Africa. It tracks 30 years, from the time the City predicted severe water shortages to the point where the taps nearly ran dry and this city of four million people reduced water use enough to avoid disaster. 

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It’s About Respect - Reducing Sexual Violence in Washington  HealthSafety

It’s about Respect is a program to prevent sexual violence among middle school students. This case study reports on the program’s initial pilot at one school, compared with a control school.

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