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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Get in the Loop -- Buy Recycled  Environment

To encourage people to buy more recycled-content products, an annual, month-long Get in the Loop campaign reminds shoppers in rural and urban areas of western Washington State to buy recycled through in-store promotional materials, and identifies specific recycled-product choices right on the store shelf. This is supported by a print and radio advertising campaign conducted cooperatively with product manufacturers and local retailers.

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In Concert with the Environment  Environment

In Concert With The Environment ( In Concert) is a customizable educational program developed by EcoGroup. It is sold to electric, natural gas, and water utilities in the U.S. who provide the program to local schools free of charge. In Concert teaches about careful use of resources, particularly energy and water use, providing a hands-on, real-life learning experience for students in grades 6-12, and their families.

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Iowa City  Environment

To influence households to reduce natural gas and electricity use, 20-minute home visits were conducted in which conservation strategies were explained, people were asked to participate, and a commitment to participate was requested.

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Halifax Regional Municipality Pesticide By-law  EnvironmentHealth

In 2000, Halifax introduced a by-law reducing the use of pesticides on municipal and residential properties, to protect human health and the environment. The municipality used internal resources and external partners to phase in the by-law over several years while educating residents on sustainable turf maintenance and alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

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Be Water Wise. It Makes Cents  Environment

To promote water efficiency and reduce water consumption, residents were offered home visits conducted by trained volunteers and the opportunity to obtain discounts on home water-saving devices.

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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 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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Pacific Gas and Electric  Environment

Pacific Gas and Electric was using home audits to encourage residents to improve the energy efficiency of their customers' homes. In order to improve the effectiveness of home visits, the utility trained some of its auditors to obtain commitment from the resident, to frame recommendations in terms of "loss" rather than "gain" and to convey recommendations in a personalized, vivid manner.

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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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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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Norway Public School Litterless Lunch  Environment

Students eating lunch at Norway Public School were exposed to an ongoing Litterless Lunch program - one that involved the participation of parents and made use of student monitors. In addition, there was an emphasis on recycling and composting throughout the school.

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Jasper Energy Efficiency Project (JEEP)  Environment

To promote energy conservation, Jasper residents received a one-hour home visit in which conservation strategies and a retrofit incentive program were explained. They were also offered energy efficient products, installation included. The JEEP program won five awards, including two from the International Association of Business Communicators.

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Landmark Case Study Go Boulder  EnvironmentHealth

To promote a shift from single-occupant vehicle use to more sustainable modes of transportation, the City of Boulder uses several synergistic approaches. It offers transit passes to entire workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods, with guaranteed rides home for workplace pass holders needing to stay late at work or in case of an emergency. The city has continually improved its physical system to be more supportive of alternative transportation methods, with high-profile monthly reminders and opportunities to try these alternative methods.

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Seattle Neighborhoods In Motion  EnvironmentHealth

Seattle’s In Motion program uses tantalizing neighborhood prompts followed by direct outreach to engage residents in learning about and trying travel options. King County Metro (KCM) has completed demonstrations in three neighborhoods, and additional demonstrations are now being conducted by several partner cities. It was designed for easy replication, and a program how-to guide is currently being prepared to facilitate implementation by others.

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Bike Smarts  EnvironmentHealthSafety

The Bike Smarts program was introduced in Lochside Elementary School to educate students about bicycle safety and to encourage them to travel by bicycle. As part of the program, parents of the students became involved in cycling to school with their children and participated in a cycling field trip.

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Claremont  Environment

To find effective ways to increase public participation in recycling, two studies were undertaken in the City of Claremont, California. In each case, trained volunteers went door-to-door contacting members of non-recycling households. Two approaches were tried -one using Boy Scouts, and the other using neighbours as volunteers.

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Earth-Works  Environment

The Earth-Works program was created to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill in Port Colborne. An intensive promotion program, featuring home visits and the distribution of free composters, encouraged residents to compost organic waste in their own backyards.

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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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Global Action Plan for the Earth (GAP)  Environment

As of 1996, over 8,000 households in 15 countries had participated in GAP's EcoTeam program which revolves around an easy-to-use workbook and peer support groups. The program focuses on waste reduction, water and energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and other sustainable consumer habits.

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Guelph 2000  Environment

Started in 1993 under Ontario's Green Communities Initiative, Guelph 2000 provided a home visit service that encouraged City of Guelph residents to undertake a wide variety of conservation related actions in their homes, including sustainable landscaping practices.

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Peterborough Green-Up  Environment

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.

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Quinte Waste Solutions  Environment

To encourage people to reduce the amount of curbside waste going to land fills, a range of waste diversion programs were introduced in the Centre and South Hastings Region of Ontario and Prince Edward County, including backyard composting, expanded Blue Box recycling, reducing and properly disposing of household hazardous waste, and a user-pay system.

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Sheffield Mills Community Association  Environment

The organizing efforts of Sheffield Mills Community Association show what a small community can do to help its residents reduce waste. A collection depot, home visits and coaching helped people to start recycling and composting.

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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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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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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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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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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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Le Club Millezinc  EnvironmentHealth

Student volunteers are enlisted and trained to present information to younger students regarding environment-friendly lifestyle changes, and the relationship between environmental protection and human health. The volunteers create videos and written material and travel to local schools to deliver the presentations.

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Marley Station Mall  EnvironmentHealth

This pilot used simple signs to promote health and weight control by encouraging the use of stairs instead of escalators.

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