Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By
  • Toronto Public Health in 1999
  • Involvement of health units from the regions of York, Peel, Halton and Durham began in 2001
  • Health units of the regions of York, Durham, Peel and Halton
  • Clean Air Partnership
  • Green$aver
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board
  • Pollution Probe
  • Eneract
  • Clean Air Champions
  • Clean Air Foundation
  • Don Valley One-Tonne Challenge
  • Enbridge Gas Distribution
  • GO Transit
  • Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Smart Commute Initiative
  • Green Communities Association
  • One-Tonne Toronto
  • Residential Energy Efficiency Project
  • Toronto Environmental Alliance
  • Toronto Hydro
  • Toronto Transit Commission
  • WindFall Ecology Centre

On average per household per year:

  • Close to 20% reduction in home energy use
  • A 15% vehicle reduction in vehicle use
  • 1.2 tonnes emissions reduction (mainly CO2), which helped participants meet their One-Tonne Challenge goals set by the Canadian government.

20/20 The Way to Clean Air

20/20 The Way to Clean Air involved individuals in the Greater Toronto Area in reducing home energy use and vehicle use by 20%. It asked participants to make a small commitment (some easy-to-do activities done for a period of two weeks), leading to a larger commitment (longer-term, greater cost savings actions), and connected them with programs and services that helped them succeed.


In November 1999, Toronto Public Health contracted a social marketing firm - Eric Young Enterprise (E.Y.E.) - to develop a strategic framework for its education program on smog and air quality. The goal was to identify a strategy for Toronto Public Health to conduct risk reduction and smog reduction activities and to create a platform for long-term change on air quality. E.Y.E. developed the brand for the 20/20 The Way for Clean Air program in 2000.

The strategic framework, completed in March 2000, outlined the components of a social marketing campaign whose focus was to engage residents, both at the individual and collective level, in taking actions to reduce air pollution. Driving the public to partner programs and services was also key. A planning guide (the 20/20 Planner) was envisaged, with a Connector section to link participants to service providers that would help them achieve their 20% energy reduction goal.

This progam is no longer active.

Setting Objectives

20/20 hoped to:

  • Involve 20 corporate participants in the GTA to become a 20/20 workplace by 2005.
  • Involve 500 schools in the GTA in its EcoSchools partnership program by 2010.
  • Deliver 150,000 20/20 Planners to households across the GTA by 2010.
  • Achieve 30% home energy use reduction per participating household by 2020.
  • Achieve 20% vehicle use reduction per participating household by 2020.

Getting Informed

Toronto Public Health contracted Cullbridge Marketing and Communications to conduct a best practices analysis. This analysis, completed in January 2001, outlined a series of energy reducing activities for the 20/20 program, both for the home energy use and personal vehicle use components. These included: 1) home energy audits, 2) insulation, 3) weatherization, 4) home thermostat, 5) lower-income housing, 6) water heater thermostat, 7) lighting, 8) walking and biking for adults, 9) walking and biking for school children, 10) transit, 11) work-based carpooling and 12) school-based carpooling.

The development of the 20/20 Planner and 20/20 EcoSchools Planner (a student-focused version of the 20/20 Planner) built on these energy-reducing activities, targeting residents and schools respectively.

In 2000, Toronto Public Health worked with E.Y.E. to develop a living lab exercise to test out draft materials with 20 families across the Greater Toronto Area. Participants received incentives and regular telephone support from the five health units in the regions of York, Peel, Halton, Durham and Toronto. To further test and refine the program, Toronto Public Health hired a team led by Lura Consulting to pilot the program with 250 families in Toronto and Peel Region.

The living lab and pilot, completed in May 2002, indicated that a 20% energy goal was achievable. These studies confirmed the barriers and opportunities for behavioral change that were identified in the best practices analysis, including the need for: 1) a comprehensive resource to guide actions, 2) some form of follow-up/reminder to participants of their action, 3) incentives to take action, 4) making a pledge for action, and 5) having measurable results.

The studies also suggested that 20/20 needed to be promoted to a wider audience, enabling a much larger number of people to find out that the program and support was available. Other recommendations included: 1) providing on the ground support to priority neighbourhood, 2) making basic information about home energy-savings opportunities easy to access, 3) the need for a simple information kit for participants, 4) providing easy-to-use tracking tool and incentives for participants, and 5) partnering with local service providers such as Green$aver and Pollution Probe to deliver a work-based initiative.

Targeting the Audience

  • 20/20 in general residents in the Greater Toronto Area, including those living in multi-unit residences
  • 20/20 workplace companies in the Greater Toronto Area interested in promoting energy efficiency to their employees
  • 20/20 EcoSchools, predominantly Grade 5 classrooms in elementary schools
  • 20/20 community pilot selected neighbourhoods, whose first language is not English

Delivering the Program

20/20 was officially launched to the general public in June 2002. It introduced its workplace program at the end of 2002 and the schools program in 2003, as a pilot with the Toronto District School Boards EcoSchools initiative. The regional health units contracted the Clean Air Partnership to coordinate the program throughout the GTA at the same time. They also set up a Regional Steering Committee composed of 20/20 staff from the five regional health units to oversee the implementation of the program across the GTA. In 2005, 20/20 partnered with community groups to bring the program to multi-ethnic communities. A small-scale advertising campaign also took place in 2003 and 2004.

The 20/20 Planners went through several revisions to include updated information from program partners, prize draws, activity tracking/feedback forms, and energy saving tips for tenants and condo owners. 20/20 developed a new teacher's guide in 2005 to accompany the 20/20 EcoSchools Planner, outlining the program links to curriculum.

By the summer of 2005, the program had reached over 20 workplaces, 70 schools across the Greater Toronto Area and over 14 communities bringing the 20/20 program to residents whose first language is not English. More than 10,000 Planners, per year, in total were distributed in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.

Distribution and promotion of the residential 20/20 Planner:

The general public could order a free copy of the 20/20 Planner (Overcoming Specific Barriers) by calling a hotline. 20/20 promoted the hotline through the 20/20 point of contact brochure, advertising in the media electronic bulletin boards, and printed articles in magazines and commuter papers (Mass Media). Participants could also download the Planner from the 20/20 program web site or sign up at 20/20 displays at public events (e.g., Environment Days, Smog Summit Fresh Air Fair, Bike Week, Earth Week, and Clean Air Day).

20/20 encouraged participants to complete and return a feedback form indicating the type of energy use activity they would do, both in a Stage One, two-week period and beyond (Building Motivation Over Time), and be entered into a draw for some prizes (Incentives).

On receiving the feedback form, 20/20 sent participants a welcome letter, a window decal, and energy saving plugs/shoelaces/fridge magnet to remind them of their commitment to energy use reduction (Norm Appeals, Prompts).

20/20 workplace program:

20/20 partnered with Green$aver, Pollution Probes S.M.A.R.T. Movement program and the Smart Commute Association to bring energy efficiency to companies across the Greater Toronto Area (Work Programs). Each company that signed up for the program received a welcoming package, filled with information to help the workplace coordinator communicate the program to its employees.

20/20 also worked with the participating workplaces to organize lunch and learn events and education displays where employees could sign up for their free copy of the 20/20 Planner.

20/20 EcoSchools program:

20/20 partnered with the Ontario EcoSchools initiative to bring the 20/20 Planner (revised for student use and called the 20/20 EcoSchools Planner) to teachers and their students. Staff from the regional health units worked with local school boards to invite teachers to participate in the program. 20/20 focused predominantly in Grade 5 classrooms where energy conservation is a curriculum requirement for this grade. 20/20 also encouraged schools in the Greater Toronto Area to tie the 20/20 EcoSchools program to annual environmental events such as Earth Week in April, Clean Air Day in June and International Walk to School month in October.

Incentives for participating schools in the Greater Toronto Area included: 1) monthly pizza lunch prize draw for classroom and, 2) opportunity to win a "clean air" presentation by a Clean Air Champion. Participating classrooms also received a colourful child-focused poster with stickers. Schools that registered a minimum of three classrooms also received an attractive school banner.

Students of the participating classrooms received copies of the 20/20 EcoSchools Planner to take home to their families (School Programs that Involve the Family). A teacher's guide was also sent to the teachers outlining instructions for participating, curriculum connections, and additional resources to enhance the 20/20 program in the classroom.

Schools outside of the Greater Toronto Area could also download the 20/20 EcoSchools Planner and the teachers guide from the 20/20 program web site.

20/20 community pilot:

20/20 partnered with local community agencies to deliver the program to selected communities who first language is not English. Participating communities translated 20/20 materials, including part of the 20/20 Planner to different languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Tamil, Punjabi and Arabic. The 20/20 Planner also included energy saving tips for people living in multi-units residences thus expanding the reach of the program (Overcoming Specific Barriers).

Financing the Program

20/20 received funding from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, the Climate Change Action Fund, Environment Canada Ontario Region, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Ontario Ministry of Energy, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and the EcoAction Fund in the development and implementation of the program. Many program partners also provided in kind support throughout the course of the program.

Measuring Achievements

In the spring/summer of 2004, Toronto Public Health conducted a participant survey to assess if program participants used the 20/20 Planner (the programs central resource) to achieve reductions in energy use and to determine the specific actions that they were taking. This information was used to quantify the emissions reductions related to the energy saving activities undertaken by the participants. The study involved two surveys.

Survey #1 targeted program participants who ordered the 20/20 Planner and returned their activity tracking/feedback forms. The main objectives of this survey were to find out whether these individuals had done the longer-term activities to which they committed and, if not, what the barriers to success had been.

Survey #2 targeted program participants who had ordered the 20/20 Planner, but had not sent back their activity forms. The objectives of this survey were to find out why the participants activity tracking/feedback forms were not sent back, and whether they were in fact engaged in the program.

Emissions reductions were calculated based on self-reporting of activities by participants. The amount of emissions reduced for each activity was assigned a value based on models that predicted estimated transportation emissions per passenger per kilometer traveled, and home energy use based on typical housing stock in Canada.

The results of the two surveys were as follow:

  • An average of 19% reduction in home energy use per household (20% from participants who returned their feedback forms and 18% from those who did not).
  • An average of 15% reduction in vehicle km traveled per household (13% from participants who returned their feedback forms and 16% from those who did not).
  • An average of 1.2 tonnes emissions reduction (mainly CO2) per household per year (1.3 tonnes from participants who returned their feedback form and 1.1 from those who did not).


This program is no longer active.

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Concluding Thoughts

  • Partnerships were key to the success of 20/20 The Way to Clean Air. Linking with strong programs in the schools (such as EcoSchools), transportation partners in the workplace (S.M.A.R.T. Movement), and on-the-ground community groups, enabled the campaign to reach a diversity of families with meaningful messages.
  • Involvement of neighbouring health units brought credibility to the campaign that helped 20/20 build trust with the communities and residents in the region.
  • Offering households the flexibility to choose the level of participation helped the campaign evolve into one that reached a variety of families with difference economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Behaviour change is incremental and happens over time. Contributions (from smallest to largest) of each participating household add up over the years into meaningful emissions reductions on a collective level.

This case study was written by Jay Kassirer in 2005.

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