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

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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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 integrates climate education and energy efficiency, with linkages to hands-on job training and career development.

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Opting Out in Germany for Non-Renewable Energy  Environment

While many people in Germany say they would use green energy if presented with a choice, very few consumers do so. In contrast, most people have been using green energy in a few German municipalities where citizens have had to opt out for non-renewable energy supplies rather than having to opt-in to get renewable ones. This case study presents their experiences and illustrates the value of randomized control trials (RCTs) for measuring program impacts.

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Norway’s Promotion of Electric Vehicles  Environment

Several policies / incentives, in place over an extended period, have made Norwegians more likely to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) than people in any other country. These incentives have included: exemption from vehicle registration and high purchase taxes, reduced road tolls, free parking, and access to some bus lanes. A similar long-term approach could be adapted for other big-ticket purchasing behaviors where the impact justifies the expense – for example energy-efficient home / building retrofits and appliances. Norway's electric cars are close to zero-emission as 98% of its electricity came from hydropower.

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BART Perks 2  Environment

BART Perks Phase II used a Smartphone-based platform to incentivize shifts in public transit trips that reduced peak demand. The approach proved cost-effective relative to the average fare associated with each freed-up seat. At full-scale, the approach was predicted to be cost-effective relative to purchasing and maintaining more transit cars. This six-month randomized control study took place in San Francisco during the first half of 2019.

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Port of San Diego  Environment

The Port of San Diego’s (Port’s) Green Business Network (Network) is an integrated energy efficiency and sustainability program that educates tenant businesses on sustainable business practices and identifies resources to implement building and operational improvements. The Green Business Network provides a forum for businesses across the Port’s five member cities to network on sustainability best practices. Between 2010 and 2017, participating businesses reduced energy use by 10.8 million kWh and 300,000 therms.

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Landmark Case Study RE100  Environment

 

RE100 is a global, collaborative initiative that is accelerating a shift in corporate energy purchasing to reduce global carbon emissions and buy energy from renewable sources. Members commit to public disclosure of progress, with third-party verification providing social proof and accountability. Participation also involves inter-company comparisons and norming to a common goal of 100% renewable electricity. High-profile external public relations events enhance value for membership and sustain pressure for member companies to keep commitments, thereby ensuring persistence of campaign impacts. Designated a Landmark Case Study in 2019.

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Landmark Case Study Europe’s Energy Neighborhoods  Environment

Europe’s Energy Neighbourhoods program engaged neighbourhoods to ‘bet’ with their municipalities that they could reduce energy use by at least 9% over a four-month time period, with no investments in technology allowed. Each neighbourhood was supported by an “Energy Master”, an enthusiastic individual who acted as coordinator for the group and who received specific training to help their group make its energy savings. Those groups that made savings of 9% or more were rewarded with certificates and prizes, and received local media attention for their efforts. Designated a Landmark Case Study in 2019.

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Stay on the Ground  Environment

The most effective approach to-date at shifting air travel to train travel, and also at promoting the sale of carbon offsets for airplane travel, this approach could also work well for other behaviors that are perceived by the audience as clearly important to do, yet are not being adopted by many people.

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Landmark Case Study Bologna’s Bella Mossa  EnvironmentHealth

Bologna’s Bella Mossa program awarded participants points for walking, cycling or using public transport. Points could be redeemed for discounts or payment towards merchandise and services from 85 retailers, including supermarkets, sports retailers, bike stores, opticians, bookshops, cinemas, restaurants and bars. In 2018, 10,000 people reported taking 995,000 trips by alternative transportation methods, totalling 3.7 million kilometres and saving 711 tonnes of CO2. The program won CIVITAS’s “Bold Measure" award in 2017 and was designated a Landmark case study in 2019.

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Landmark Case Study Energy Connect  Environment

Energy Connect shows that energy savings and occupant comfort can be achieved quickly and persistently in large, complex facilities when building operators and mechanics are empowered to solve building performance issues. Five interventions were tested across six diverse healthcare facilities at the second largest health network in North America. Verified first year results show annual energy savings at three facilities from 3% to 12.5% attributable to Energy Connect, and all pilot facilities saved energy. Designated a Landmark Case Study in 2018.

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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 doubled enrollment rates, converted 44% of energy efficiency assessments to comprehensive upgrades, and doubled average project energy savings. In 2017, this pilot received both Landmark designation and the American Public Power Association Energy Innovator award. The pilot offered a streamlined, turn-key service for homeowners 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. This case study was designated Landmark in 2017. 

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Landmark Case Study 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).  Designated in 2017. 

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Landmark Case Study Chicago’s Go Program  EnvironmentHealth

Chicago’s Go Program is an Individualized Marketing program that helps residents walk, bike, ride transit, and use bike share more frequently, while driving alone less often. Compared with past Individualized Marketing efforts in other cities, the Go Programs have pushed the envelope of inclusive, accessible programming that serves a very broad range of Chicago neighborhoods - and the very high participation rates and positive post-program stakeholder input show that this effort paid off. Because of these successes, the Go Program can serve as a model for other communities looking to integrate equity and diversity in Transportation Demand Management programs. On average, 65% of post-program survey respondents report increased walking, biking, or transit usage because of the program. The program’s behavior-changing results led the City of Chicago to designate funding for additional neighborhoods in the future. Designated in 2017. 

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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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Landmark Case Study Brisbane's Active Schools Travel Program  EnvironmentHealthSafety

By the end of 2017, Brisbane’s Active Schools Travel Program had engaged over 157 primary schools to reduce single car trips by up to 35% and increase walking trips correspondingly. Half of the students at participating schools travel to school by active means, twice the state average. This program illustrates good use of safety instruction and practice, stamped student passports, norm appeals, competitions, and three levels of recognition and incentives. Designated a Landmark Case Study in 2018. 

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Landmark Case Study ClimateSmart Home Service, Queensland, Australia  Environment

Once a resident signs up for Queensland’s ClimateSmart Home Service, a licensed electrician visits the home, installs a variety of energy-efficiency products, conducts an energy audit, provides recommendations, and leaves behind materials and prompts. The information collected is then used to create a customized plan that is sent to the homeowner approximately six weeks after the visit, with different audience segments receiving different messaging. A voluntary household energy challenge, wireless power monitors and an on-line portal help motivate and empower participants. ClimateSmart was designated a Landmark case study in 2011.

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Landmark Case Study Opower’s Home Energy Report, Minnesota  Environment

This program is a great example of the use of ongoing individualized feedback and prompts, coupled with norm appeals. Opower helps individual utility companies to send customized home energy use feedback reports to their residential utility customers. The full-colour reports include a comparison with other similar households, offer tips and strategies to reduce energy use, and provide seasonal energy consumption information. A web portal offers personalized insights and tips, and tools for choosing an optimal energy rate plan. In addition, Opower offers utilities the opportunity to send text messages directly to customers to alert them when their energy consumption is high and offer ways to reduce it. Updated as of October, 2014.

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Landmark Case Study Burlington’s Ice Rink Energy Competition  Environment

The City of Burlington's Ice Rink Energy Competition employs a low cost, easily replicable approach to significantly reduce energy consumption, associated greenhouse gases (GHG) and energy costs. A friendly competition to reduce energy at eight of the city's ice rinks helps change behaviours among staff and users, improves facility performance, and extends equipment life without sacrificing facility service levels or user satisfaction. Designated a Landmark case study in 2013.

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Landmark Case Study Class 5 Energy  Environment

This comprehensive, long-term approach combines education, training, behavior change and goal setting with progress tracking, recognition and continuous improvement to reduce energy use in schools, hospitals and other institutional settings.

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Landmark Case Study Bicycle Friendly Communities Program  EnvironmentHealthSafety

The Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program provides municipalities with advice and feedback, goal setting assistance, training programs and recognition awards to create more bike-friendly communities. It is a results-oriented program designed to encourage municipal decision makers to consider how their existing cycling programs complement one another and how they can be improved. Detailed feedback from transportation professionals and community stakeholders gives communities an accurate measure of where they are and a detailed roadmap to the future.

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Do Your Share for Cleaner Air  EnvironmentHealth

The region of Greater Cincinnati implemented an episode day program to deal with the problem of smog and air quality. When smog levels were particularly high, citizens were notified and encouraged to change their behaviours to less polluting ones. The focus was primarily on commuting, but includef other polluting activities as well. The campaign was known as "Do Your Share for Cleaner air".

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AIDS Peer Education Program  Health

The goal of this peer education program is to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and AIDS among teenagers, by the postponement of sexual involvement or by condom use. A group of trained students (ages 15-16) creates skits, videos, games and posters, then makes presentations for their younger peers (ages 12-15).

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Barrie Water Conservation Program  Environment

The City of Barrie, Ontario has deferred millions of dollars in waste water and water supply capital expenditures with its retrofit water conservation program. The City supplied subsidized ultra low flow toilets, showerheads and aerators to Barrie residents over a two-year period.

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Commuter Challenge: Environment Canada's Participation  EnvironmentHealth

This case study illustrates the successful engagement of a large organization (Environment Canada) in a broad-scale staff participation program. That program, the Commuter Challenge, is a Canada-wide NGO-led event that challenges commuters to reduce the use of single-occupant vehicles during a specific time frame. It is used as an awareness raising initiative and to promote trial of an activity, not as a scientific auditing or survey tool.

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Setback Thermostats: Research and Resource Alert  Environment

This alert reviews research and resources relevant to turning down the heat (turning up the air conditioning temperature) - either by hand or using a setback thermostat - based on a report from Toronto Public Health.

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AT&T Employee Telework Initiative  Environment

The AT&T Employee Telework Initiative provides information and support to all staff and management, corporate-wide, who would like to telework either part-time or full-time. Since 1992, AT&T has succeeded in developing not only a formal policy and telework program for its employees, but also a telework internet portal that acts as a model and guide for other companies interested in telework. AT&T believes that its telework initiative can be replicated by practically any company.

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Århus Bike Bus'ters  EnvironmentHealth

Over a one-year period more than 150 people in the City of Århus, Denmark were actively encouraged to use bicycles or public transit for their daily commute. One of the goals of Bike Busters was to assess the extent to which motorists would switch to sustainable means of transportation.

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Compact Fluorescent Lamp Vendor Program  Environment

Southern California Edison, an American electric utility, reduced the price barrier that discouraged its residential and commercial customers from utilizing compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) rather than the less energy-efficient incandescent bulbs. Unlike traditional rebate programs that offer discounts directly to the consumer, the utility offered rebates of $5 per lamp to manufacturers of CFLs. The discount was amplified through the retail mark-up process, becoming even greater by the time it reached the consumer. This model was subsequently adopted by other utilities across the country.

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Auto$mart Program for Canada's Novice Drivers  EnvironmentSafety

The Auto$mart Student Driver Education Program provides driving educators across Canada with a classroom kit that helps them teach student drivers how to drive more safely while saving money and protecting the environment. The kit includes a video, an interactive CD-ROM and driver instructor materials. The course materials explain how informed decisions regarding car purchases (e.g., what type and model), operating habits (e.g., following posted speed limits), and maintenance (e.g., regular tune-ups) can improve fuel economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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