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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Landmark Case Study Playa Vista Ability2Change  EnvironmentHealth

Playa Vista's Ability2Change program is a great example of a targeted, strategic approach to transport behavior change. It features careful market segmentation and barrier removal, with different initiatives for different people. In just seven months it yielded a 4.9% decrease in peak time drive alone mode share across the entire community (a decrease of 3.5 percentage points from 71.4% to 67.9%), with corresponding increases in carpool, cycling and transit trips. Listen to the program manager and ask questions during our case study webinar on February 24, 2017.

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Landmark Case Study Bikeability Safety Training in the UK  EnvironmentHealthSafety

This large scale bicycle safety training program from the UK has been particularly well evaluated and shows impressive results, adding to the evidence of the value of such trainings. Designated a Landmark case study in 2016.

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Alameda County’s Community Commutes Day  Environment

Community Commutes Day used game-based competition, community based social marketing techniques, crowd-sourced graphic design to save costs, and peer-to-peer information sharing via trained “Clean Commute Champions” to get employees to adopt cleaner commute options.

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Girl Scouts GLEE Program  Environment

The Girls Learning Energy and Environment Program (GLEE) was designed to reduce home energy consumption as well as energy use related to food and transportation, among targeted Junior Girls Scouts (ages 9-10) and their families. It was developed and rigorously evaluated over six years with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-e program.

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Landmark Case Study Bonneville Power Administration Energy Smart Industrial Program  Environment

Bonneville Power Administration's Energy Smart Industrial Program has changed how large industrial facilities consider and prioritize energy management. At the leadership level examples of affected behaviors include establishing and communicating energy policies and goals, conducting periodic reviews of energy performance, and including topics in communication with employees. At the operations level the program impacted a broad range of behaviors and practices. Common areas of emphasis included adopting procedures to operate the most efficient equipment under different operating scenarios (e.g. informed scheduling of parallel manufacturing lines), adopting more energy efficient standard operating conditions (e.g. reducing guard bands where possible), and ensuring proper maintenance and calibration of critical gauges (e.g. humidity probes, thermocouples, pressure gauges). Designated a Landmark case study in 2016.

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Landmark Case Study Shower Feedback in Switzerland  Environment

This pilot program provided Swiss households with real-time feedback on one specific, energy-intensive behavior: showering. Participants received smart shower meters that displayed feedback on the individual’s energy and water consumption in the shower in real time. A randomized controlled trial with 697 households in Zurich found that the treatment group who received feedback in real time reduced their energy and water consumption, as well as time spent in the shower by 20-22% over the control group. The effects were stable throughout the two-month study, resulting in average savings of 1.2 kWh per day and household.  This program was designated a Tools of Change Landmark case study in 2016. Listen to the program manager, Verena Tiefenbeck of ETH Zurich, and ask questions during our webinar on March 6, 2017.

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Alameda’s Green Purchasing Program  Environment

This innovative green purchasing program engaged hundreds of event planners and over 18,000 event participants to build a new county culture of sustainable and healthy gatherings in Alameda County, California. In only six weeks, its promotion competition enrolled 192 events and meetings, reaching over 9,200 attendees with model green & healthy practices.

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Landmark Case Study Get Energized, Iowa!  Environment

Get Energized, Iowa! is a highly replicable community-based program that encouraged rural Iowa communities to compete against one another to achieve high gas and electricity savings, based on actual usage. 

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Landmark Case Study King County In Motion  EnvironmentHealth

In Motion participants pledge to shift two drive-alone trips per week to transit, ridesharing, biking or walking. The program uses motivational interviewing, commitments, rewards, engaging materials and norm appeals tailored to each target community. It has been called into action during or in anticipation of major construction, transit restructures or new transit service such as light rail or bus rapid transit. Since creating In Motion in 2004, King County Metro Transit has applied a growing toolkit of community-based social marketing techniques to persuade about 23,000 Seattle-area travelers to drive less. Designated a Landmark case study in 2015.

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Growing Healthy Kids  EnvironmentHealth

This well-documented obesity prevention program pilot for low-income families in Carrboro NC (USA) featured three main components. Weekly work sessions in a community garden provided gardening instruction and practice opportunities and a familiarity with the vegetables. A seven-week workshop series covered cooking and nutrition. Social activities and events built and maintained interest in the garden and fostered interaction between garden members. By the end of their participation in the program, 17% (n=6, p<0.004) of obese or overweight children had improved their BMI classification and 100% of the children with a BMI classification of normal had maintained that BMI classification.

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SCIP Mozambique  Health

From 2009 to 2015, Pathfinder International and its partners implemented the USAID-funded Strengthening Communities through Integrated Programming (SCIP) project in Nampula province, Mozambique. As part of SCIP’s overarching mandate to improve quality of life at the household and community levels, the project worked to increase access to contraceptive services by strengthening and better integrating health and community systems. There was a 400% increase in couple years of protection that occurred across all contraceptive methods included in the Mozambican method mix, suggesting improved method choice and minimized health provider bias.

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Cool California City Challenge  Environment

The Cool California Challenge is a state-wide competition between California cities engaging their residents in climate action. Participants earn points for tracking and reducing their electricity, natural gas and motor vehicle emissions and for simple one-time actions, like uploading photos and stories, inviting friends or taking a survey. Results from a quasi-experimental design suggest a 14% reduction in electricity use among program participants.

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Landmark Case Study LEED  EnvironmentHealth

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a tremendously successful program that engages builders and owners in designing, building, selling / buying and operating more energy-efficient buildings. It awards points for meeting targets and doing targeted behaviors like benchmarking and tracking energy and water consumption, using specific types of materials, and recycling waste materials. It has become the most used green building rating system out there, adopted in more than 150 countries and territories worldwide. The program received Landmark designation in 2015.

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Citi Bike - NYC Bikeshare  EnvironmentHealth

New York City’s Citi Bike is the largest bike share program in North America, and a key element in the city’s transportation network, providing a last mile solution. A similar approach is replicable in the downtown cores of other major cities where taxies, buses and individual cars all intertwine together.

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CommuteSM  EnvironmentHealth

CommuteSM is Santa Monica’s Transportation Management Association, formed pro bono in 2012 by RideAmigos. In collaboration with the City of Santa Monica, CommuteSM launched Santa Monica’s first-ever Commuter Challenge in 2015 (April 1 to September 1). This challenge encouraged residents and employees in Santa Monica to bike, carpool/vanpool, ride transit, or walk to work, instead of driving alone.

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Landmark Case Study BIXI Bicycle Sharing  EnvironmentHealth

BIXI Montreal is a great example of how to make  urban cycling a more practical and attractive transportation option. BIXI makes it convenient for commuters to cycle rather than drive, especially for frequent, short trips. The system was specifically developed to augment Montreal’s existing transit system and between 2009 and 2013 Montrealers made more than 13 million trips with BIXI. It is a turn-key service that is inexpensive and replicable across many countries and cultures. In addition, by making cycling more chic and attractive, BIXI has had a major impact on cycling in North America. Revised in September 2015.

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Green Communities Canada’s Home Energy Retrofit Incentive and Home Visit Program  Environment

Making the housing stock more energy-efficient provides persistent and ongoing returns. However efforts to do so often run into obstacles that diminish program impacts. This program illustrates how to overcome many of these barriers, and how ongoing monitoring and evaluation can lead to program improvements over time. It’s also a great illustration of combining home visits with incentives for doing desired behaviours. Revised in September 2015.

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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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Landmark Case Study Love to Ride  EnvironmentHealth

Love to Ride provides tailored resources and support for increasing commuter cycling, staff fitness, and reducing traffic congestion at work. It uses 'stage of change' to segment participants and cost-effectively tailor communications to them, helping them move along a personal journey of change. A web-based platform and GPS app reach people through their computers, cell phones and tablets, with tailored and timely information. Originally developed in New Zealand, Love to Ride has now been replicated in continental Europe, the UK, US and Australia. It was designated a Landmark case study in 2014.

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Recycle Right  Environment

Bankstown, Australia tested a range of options for reducing waste contamination. 

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Landmark Case Study Power Smart Residential Behavioural Program  Environment

This program is a great example of applying a “loyalty group” approach to progressively engage participants in changing behaviours. Because electricity and electricity conservation tend to be a low priority for many British Columbians, BC Hydro has connected energy conservation to the things that people care about through an opt-in loyalty model and a focus on story-telling, co-creation, challenges and individualized feedback. Regular communications repeatedly drive participants back to their Members’ Tool Box, which serves as a ‘hub’. Ultimately, the product mix is designed to increase participant engagement levels on three dimensions: affiliation, (“this is who I am”), resonance (“this is right for me”) and enjoyment (“I like this”). Multi-year impact data.  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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Way to Save Burlington!  Environment

The Way to Save, Burlington! pilot program was a community-based approach to marketing energy efficiency. Unlike many other community-based energy efficiency programs, no new measures were offered and existing rebate levels were not enhanced. The pilot increased active participation in existing conservation programs among all customer segments: residential, commercial, and industrial.

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UBC Energy Reduction Challenge  Environment

This is a great model for generating enthusiasm among students for energy efficiency. To engage more students in energy conservation, UBC adapted a Facebook application called My Every Day Earth to create a point structure for participation that was in addition to the typical kWh meter readings. Users were able to gain points through activities such as: performing 11 actions they pledged to perform each day; creating short films to get their co-residents engaged and thinking about energy conservation; meeting with other students to discuss energy efficiency; and contacting their local politicians about energy efficiency.

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Boston’s Challenge for Sustainability  Environment

A Better City’s Challenge for Sustainability has engaged over 100 participating businesses and properties to develop and meet sustainability standards and practices, and to drive local innovation in energy efficiency. The program uses a combination of monthly information and networking meetings, Challenge Coordinators who provide technical and educational guidance one-on-one with participants, benchmarking, utility tracking, and goal setting.

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Rossland Energy Diet  Environment

This is a great example of a home energy efficiency retrofit incentive campaign for smalller communities. It achieved 257 energy efficiency assessments, or 22% of the single-family homes in Rossland. Of those households, 95%+  made some energy efficiency improvements and substantial reductions in energy consumption were achieved . One year later, the program was then extensively replicated within the FortisBC Electrical area and also BC Hydro Electrical areas. 

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Cage-Free Campus  EnvironmentHealth

In 2005, The Humane Society of the United States (the HSUS) hatched a plan to replace conventionally produced eggs served on college campuses with cage-free alternatives, by appealing to students’ interest in social issues and addressing administrators’ practical concerns. Now led by The Humane League (THL) in the United States and by other organizations internationally, the campaign has resulted in millions of eggs now sourced from cage-free rather than “factory farming” facilities. A step-by-step playbook showing how to achieve campus-wide support and engage dining service managers guides student leaders implementing the campaign at their schools.

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Landmark Case Study Stockholm Congestion Pricing  EnvironmentSafety

The Stockholm congestion charge is a tax levied on vehicles entering and exiting the inner city. After a seven-month trial, followed by a referendum, the charges were made permanent and the traffic reductions of 20% have held constant ever since. This case study features strong, ongoing impact data. It is a rare example of introducing then removing and then reintroducing an intervention. It speaks to the importance of timing referendums after rather than before trials or pilots, and to the dynamics of shifting public opinion. It also shows that congestion pricing can be popular, work well, and generate significant additional funds for municipalities. Designated a Landmark case study in 2013.

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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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Drama Downunder  Health

The light-hearted Drama Downunder campaign increased access to diagnosis, treatment and care of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), improved HIV/STI awareness and knowledge, and minimized the transmission and morbidity of STIs in gay and other homosexually active men.

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