Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By
  • Peterborough Community
  • Local, provincial and federal governments
  • Local utilities

Average annual natural gas consumption was reduced by 7 percent, and an average of $1,000 was spent on green home improvements by households visited.

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Green Up Image
A Green-Up Flyer.

Peterborough Green-Up

Peterborough Green-Up is a non-profit community environmental organization that helps people become more resource efficient through a home visit service. A demonstration Ecology Park is also run, in conjunction with related workshops and clinics.


The idea for Peterborough Green-Up developed out of a community planning forum and task force study about how one small Ontario city could balance the needs of the environment with pushes for development. Launched in 1991 with limited resources, the program expanded in 1993 with funding under the Ontario's Green Communities Initiative and support from a coalition of local partners.

Getting Informed

Apparently the program began with little research. However, it quickly learned about its audience as it delivered its programs. Then, with funding under the Ontario's Green Communities Initiative and support from the Ontario Government and a coalition of local partners, Peterborough Green-Up learned about Community-Based Social Marketing and barrier-benefit analysis, and started using surveys, focus groups and pilot studies with its audience as well.

Delivering the Program

The Home Visit

As of 1996, Peterborough Green-Up had conducted over 4,500 Green Home Visits. These visits were similar to the ones described in this Workbook for other Ontario Green Community organizations. In addition, Peterborough Green-Up undertook a blower door test in people's homes, which reduced the pressure inside a house, forcing a rush of air in through gaps in the home's structure (Vivid, Personalized Communication). While the test was being conducted, householders were directed to feel the air rushing in at various trouble spots. A computer print-out detailed information about air leakage, including the estimated combined size of all gaps in the home.

Peterborough Green-Up also piloted a starter kit for promoting the purchase of sustainable landscaping plants. The kits, distributed in the spring of 1996, included a description of the methods and plants used to create bird and butterfly gardens, low water gardens, food and herb gardens, and gardens of native shade trees. The kit also contained a 15 percent discount coupon as an incentive for buying plant materials from a participating nursery (Financial Incentives and Disincentives). Peterborough Green-Up advisors helped householders decide which type of garden was best suited for them.

Ecology Park

By 1996, Ecology Park was a five-acre garden and education centre situated on land owned by the City of Peterborough. It showcased landscaping methods that contribute to resource conservation, waste reduction, bio-diversity, wildlife habitat, local food production, and reduced use of chemically manufactured pesticides and fertilizers. Visitors could view and learn from the numerous operating projects.

Ecology Park offered plant sales, weekly clinics and workshops to help individuals to take that next step toward changing their gardening habits (Building Motivation Over Time).

The park was staffed five to six days a week, May through October, and was open to the public. Some of the staff were volunteers, who received workshop training in return for their work. Family oriented picnics and concerts were held at the park - both as promotion and to make good use of the site.

Bi-weekly Newspaper Column

Peterborough Green-Up staff wrote a bi-weekly column for the local daily newspaper, the Peterborough Examiner. The column provided seasonal information and feedback, helped remind people about the actions being promoted, and raised awareness about the program.

Financing the Program

The annual budget for Ecology Park in 1996 was $52,050, as follows:

Staff $ 43,000
Plants $ 4,000
Supplies $ 1,000
Marketing $ 3,500
Miscellaneous expenses $ 550
Total $52,050

Measuring Achievements

Fifty randomly-selected households receiving the home visit were also given a sustainable landscaping starter kit. Another 50 households did not receive the kits and served as controls. A telephone survey of both the participating and control groups was conducted at summer's end in 1996. Respondents were asked what kind of plants they had purchased that summer, and what their plans were for the next spring.


The program led to a 7.2 percent reduction in average annual natural gas consumption. An average of $1,000 were spent on green home improvements by households visited.

Participants in the starter kit pilot were not significantly more likely to purchase sustainable landscaping plants.* However, the discount coupons had a mild but significant impact on where people bought their plants.


* Relative to the control group.

This case study describes one of the first pilot implementations of the Green Communities’ Green Home Visit program. The success of this program in reducing natural gas use helped inform and support the growth of that program and its focus on energy efficiency and helped attract funding from Natural Resources Canada for expansion nation-wide.


Dave McLeod
Peterborough Green-Up
380 Armour Road
Suite 200A
Peterborough, Ontario
K9H 7L7
(705) 745-3238
Fax: (705) 745-4413


Green Communities

Peterborough Green-Up is one of a number of Green Community case studies on this site. The others are The Environment Network, Guelph 2000 and ReCAP. For more information on Green Communities click here.

Additional key words: pollution prevention 

This case study was originally published in 1998 in "Tools of Change: Proven Methods for Promoting Environmental Citizenship" by Jay Kassirer and Doug McKenzie-Mohr (Published by Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy)

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