Effective Practices for Local Energy Programs
Communities learn best from other communities. In the course of completing their climate and energy projects, EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities learned a lot that can help others interested in starting or expanding their own climate and energy programs. We have collected their knowledge, resources and tips here. These approaches can be used or adapted to fit the needs of communities across the country.
Effective messaging is a skill that programs use to reach potential program participants and communities. It relies on understanding your audience and identifying what messages appeal most to the audiences that you are trying to reach.
Community-based social marketing (CBSM) uses direct neighbor-to-neighbor communication and influence to promote behavior change. In-person communications are often complemented by electronic social media tools.
Within communities, people have varying views when it comes to climate change. Many communities have found ways to work across ideological differences and focus on common values and goals.
Pilot projects are an opportunity to “test the waters” for your project on a small scale, provide insight and data on what works, and adjust your strategy for full-scale implementation.
Action checklists motivate behavior change by providing a clear and concise list of activities that community members and organizations can use to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve other sustainability goals.
Award and certificate programs publicly recognize and reward organizations that meet criteria for achieving sustainability goals or win a competition among organizations.
Contractors often do the “real work” of reducing greenhouse gases and saving energy. They are on the front lines of program communication, and they are critical to the reputation, integrity, and quality of many programs.
Programs can work with corporations to reduce companies’ greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, as well as create partnerships to reach employees and the community with local sustainability program offerings.
“Early adopters” are businesses or individuals who participate in a program early on in its development and whose candid feedback help improve program delivery. They can be effective messengers to their peers and help your program build a track record of success.
Traditional media—such as TV, radio, and print—can bring attention to newsworthy programs, raise their visibility, and motivate participation.
Expert individuals and organizations can help programs tap into knowledge and experience in program design and implementation, as well as helping them to evaluate program success.
Green teams are groups of people in an organization who volunteer to work together to achieve climate, energy, and other sustainability goals for their institutions. They may include employees, managers, students, or others.
Incentives are financial or non-financial rewards for taking actions that improve local sustainability.
Students, individually or in teams, are a volunteer workforce that offers resources to implement projects. In turn, these students are given a valuable hands-on learning experience, academic credit, and a career boost.
Testimonial videos communicate to your target audience from the perspective of “someone like them” who has participated in program activities and can speak to the benefits and motivations of the activities your program is promoting
Energy utilities are well established and often have energy efficiency and environmental commitments to meet. They can be key partners, especially for local energy efficiency programs.
Volunteers can extend the reach of programs by helping with one-time events or by making long-term commitments to program implementation. Working with volunteers can help boost organizational capacity and encourage civic engagement.
Partnering with organizations, such as other jurisdictions, utilities, complementary programs, community-based organizations, and others, can help you implement your program and achieve your collective goals.
Small and rural communities are home to up to 80 percent of the population in some states. These communities offer several unique opportunities for engaging residents in sustainability initiatives, as well as challenges related to funding, access, and capacity.