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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Engaging Stakeholders

Working with Partners

To maximize effective community-wide climate planning, local governments engage multiple agencies and staff (e.g., waste, environment, energy, utility, transportation) to implement climate and clean energy strategies. Reaching out to community organizations helps identify, assess, and access resources and tools developed by partners.

Governments find it particularly useful to reach out to local parties that are interested in and/or may be affected by changes in climate, energy, and environmental policies. Key players within the local government typically include but are not limited to:

  • Mayor or county executive - provide leadership and ensure follow-through
  • City or county council - provide leadership on policies requiring legislative action
  • Local government agencies - maintain government data and analytic capacity and have policy and implementation jurisdiction in sectors of interest
  • Municipal utilities - provide technical expertise and data

Additional stakeholders outside of local governments can include:

  • State and federal government - provide resources, tools, and best practices information and may provide technical and financial assistance
  • County, regional, and neighboring local governments - provide opportunities for cost and information sharing on programs with common goals
  • Non-municipal utilities, independent power producers, independent transmissions owners, and energy suppliers - provide data and analysis about electricity markets
  • Independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) - provide technical analyses and information and are key in many clean energy policies
  • Environmental and consumer organizations - provide data, analysis, and feedback
  • Universities - provide expertise, analytic support, and/or a neutral forum to convene stakeholder meetings
  • Community groups - help with identifying community needs and building support
  • Locally based businesses - may be affected by new climate and energy policies
  • The public - provides new ideas, input, and feedback to the local government

Reaching the Community

Climate and clean energy policy objectives require broad public and political support to be effective. Successful local governments have implemented climate and energy policies with the support of their mayor, council, government agencies, and citizens. If support is lacking, local governments can consider implementing education programs on the environmental and economic benefits of climate and clean energy action.

Additionally, achieving widespread success in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will inevitably involve engaging the community by:

  • Raising awareness about an issue, idea, or program (e.g., increasing understanding of the benefits of the ENERGY STAR brand, publicizing a new green power purchase program)
  • Educating your audience about the impacts of their decisions (e.g., sharing cost savings to encourage continued behavior change, providing a climate calculator to understand their emissions profiles)
  • Facilitating action by asking your audience to do something (e.g., visit a website, buy an energy efficient product)

Successful outreach campaigns contain well designed multi-step strategies. Fundamental components of outreach strategies include the following steps:

  1. Establish Team - Involve the team in each step of the development process. Try to get internal and external (e.g., teachers, students, curriculum developers) people on your team from both environmental and education backgrounds.
  2. Identify Goals - Identify a cohesive set of realistic goals that serve the overall objectives of your outreach campaign and function as achievable milestones.
  3. Identify Your Audience - Spend time considering the perspective and experiences of the audience you intend to reach and shaping your message to address them.
  4. Establish Timeline and Identify Needs and Resources - Develop a realistic timeline and create deadlines and milestones to keep the development of your outreach campaign on schedule. Determine your budget and, if necessary, identify any resources that may be able to provide funding or technical assistance.
  5. Develop Outreach Materials - Demonstrate to your intended audience how the content of the material meets their needs.
  6. Implement Engagement Strategy - Stick with your outreach strategy as you establish connections with your audience.

EPA's ENERGY STAR program offers information on engaging stakeholders in a campaign to improve energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR Challenge is a national call-to-action to improve the energy efficiency of America's commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more. Local governments can bring the Challenge to their own communities by leading by example for their own buildings and operations, as well as extending the Challenge to the commercial and industrial buildings within their jurisdiction.

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