savings and data sustainability engagement program

When Cool Choices implements a sustainability engagement program, we inspire participants to adopt new practices at work and home, we get people talking about sustainability, and we show people how their actions matter. In addition, we provide our partners—the corporate sustainability director or the community green team—with data and insights that can help these leaders build on the momentum we’ve created together during the program.

Estimated Cool Choices Program Impacts

As part of our sustainability engagement programs, participants use our platform to claim points for all of the sustainable practices they partake in during the program. When logging actions, participants choose if the practice they have completed is new and inspired by the program, or something they did prior to the program.  This methodology mitigates cheating, creating data that is as accurate as possible when it comes to the estimated impacts of our program.

We calculate environmental impacts in real time—using reported data to estimate annual energy, water, and waste reductions. We then share this data in real time via our innovative engagement platform. In fact, we recently overhauled our platform dashboard to show savings even more effectively, while also increasing engagement opportunities.

After the ends (typically programs are six weeks), we share the data in a more comprehensive form—delineating the impacts of both new and ongoing actions and providing some handy equivalents so people an visualize the true impact of their efforts.

It is important to note that we share all this data because we want to reinforce that actions matter. We aim to show participants that the cumulative impact of their community is significant because we know that their community can make a difference. Data, delivered effectively, can be a real source of empowerment.

Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Sustainability

As part of Cool Choices programs, we also measure participant attitudes and perceptions around sustainability and share that information with our clients. We are able to look at the correlation between specific attitudes and program activity to assess how participants’ attitudes shift during the program and how their perceptions of others change. We also assess how often people are talking about sustainability, both before and after the program, so we can see how that correlates to attitudes and actions.

Significantly, we see that over the course of participating in Cool Choices, people learn that sustainability matters to their colleagues as well as friends and family members. The number of conversations about sustainability goes up, often dramatically.

All of this matters because humans are social creatures. All of us are deeply influenced by our peers. If I think my peers are indifferent to sustainability, I’m less likely to adopt and maintain new practices. And accordingly, if I see that reducing waste matters to my friends and family, then I’m more likely to talk about the actions I’m taking, try new actions, and maintain all of those efforts.

At Cool Choices we talk about culture because that’s the ultimate goal here. We want to help partners create a culture of sustainability where reducing waste is the new normal, where everyone agrees that sustainable practices are just what “people like us” do.

Shared values are powerful. Our partners, the sustainability advocates within businesses or communities, can leverage this culture of sustainability—this shared identity—to achieve deeper and broader results. And as further inducement, we provide them with some potential areas for ongoing improvement.

Insights & Ideas Via a Sustainability Engagement Program

In every Cool Choices program, we solicit participant suggestions for ways their business or community might reduce energy, water, and waste. Often, the ideas generated include opportunities to further operationalize the entity’s commitment to reducing waste. *See our 2017 Employee Perspectives white paper for more on the ideas employees have generated as part of our progams.

Additionally, the custom actions an entity adds to our program can provide further insights on opportunities. A school-based program we implemented with Wylie ISD, for example, nudged teachers to unplug and recycle classroom appliances. More than half of the participants in that program unplugged something, with the top items being coffee pots and refrigerators. The actions yielded immediate savings and plug load reductions, as well as insights about what appliances are plugged in and the potential for removal. After the program, the district’s sustainability team can use the results from Cool Choices to inspire yet more appliance removals—especially now that they know the range of what teachers are willing to unplug. Other Cool Choices partners see similar opportunities tied to both custom and standard program actions; for example, if lots of employees report turning off their computers for the first time, that suggests there’s a bigger opportunity around computer practices.

This data provide leverage to cultivate a culture around sustainable practices and daily habits. A sustainability lead might assert, “During Cool Choices, 150 employees started using the stairs versus the elevator here at work. Not only are they saving energy, but they’re also getting exercise! I encourage everyone to give this habit a try. We can all high-five each other in the stairwells!”

Engagement and User-Generated Content (Photos)

In addition to the various forms of data Cool Choices provides to its partners, our programs provide other compelling digital assets. Participants are inspired to engage during the program by uploading photos while having fun with sustainability. We love participant photos! The pictures provide social proof that people are doing the right things. But even more, the photos are inspiring. Nothing beats a selfie of someone smiling as they recycle or bike to work! We give our clients full access to all the photos generated during their program so that they can use the images in both internal and external communications. After all, these images are compelling proof of all that’s going right in the organization.

If you’d like to learn more about the various deliverables associated with Cool Choices programs, please contact us.

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