Tag: game-based behavior change


Healthcare Employees at UW Health Boost Sustainability & Wellness Efforts

We extend our congratulations to UW Health employees on completing their customized Cool Choices employee engagement program!



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Check out how employees boosted sustainability efforts at UW Health!

  • Nearly 180 teams of employees from UW Health participated in the Cool Choices sustainability and wellness program.
  • Over 60 UW Health locations competed. They formed teams of 5 to log their sustainable actions online every day for 8 weeks.
  • UW Health participants worked together to take more than 44,400 sustainable actions that save money and help the environment.

In their game, UW Health employees achieved estimated savings of $253,365. The participants logged actions that will save 3,498,037 gallons (5 Olympic sized swimming pools) of water annually and avoid 2,613,589 lbs (1,034 car trips from LA to NYC) of CO2.

During the game UW Health employees shared 1,725 sustainable ideas. These suggestions can be implemented to save money and energy.

“By adopting sustainable practices UW Health employees save money at work and at home while improving their personal wellness and reducing environmental impacts,” noted Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director at Cool Choices.

Thanks UW Health employees, your engagement and dedication are very inspiring!


Cool Choices Congratulates Kenosha County Staff!

county-logo-2011-vector-color-rgb-0Kenosha County is the southeastern most county in Wisconsin with a history of a strong commitment to advancing county-­wide sustainability goals. Cool Choices was a natural fit and the results are impressive.

With the support of County Executive Jim Kreuser, Kenosha County staff recently wrapped up their 6­-week implementation of the Cool Choices online sustainability game; they made significant and inspiring impacts during their program. Teams of 8 earned points and won prizes for reporting their daily sustainable actions, including recycling, carpooling, saving fuel, choosing meatless meals, and conserving water.

In their game, participants from Kenosha County reported over 7,400 sustainable actions and achieved estimated savings of over $67,000.


Cool Choices inspired our office to start a worm compost project! – Tedi W.

The game also prompted some employees to start a worm compost project! How cool is that?!

“Kenosha County wants to help employees save money and live more sustainably. At Cool Choices we also recognize the changes staff make at the municipal level have the potential to impact all of southeast Wisconsin. Cool Choices is excited about this partnership with Kenosha County because of the positive change it has inspired in employees and residents of the region,” noted Raj Shukla, Director of Programs at Cool Choices.

Once again, the Cool Choices team sends our congrats to Kenosha County employees!



Beyond the Game: Monica’s Sustainability Story

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Photo courtesy of Monica S. – 2016

Cool Choices alumni take their sustainable actions seriously, and that means they continue to inspire us with their sustainability stories even after the program is over. This month we were impressed with Monica’s story about how she has made cool choices within her community!

What green activities have you been up to since taking part in the Cool Choices program?

The 4th grade boy next door, Matthew, and I are going to plant a tree together. His family’s landlord doesn’t want a tree planted on his lot, so Matthew and I will decide on a spot in my yard that is lonely for a tree. Temporarily the sapling is in a pot filled with dirt and compost from my compost maker (which I share with his family for their vegetable garden).

Talk about inspiring community engagement around sustainability! Monica took part in the Cool Choices online sustainability game in 2016 with Outpost Natural Foods.


UW Health to Launch Game-Based Sustainability Program

img_thumb_UWHC_logo_410This summer 15,000+ employees at UW Health will be invited to take a unique approach to being green and staying well. Staff will participate in a customized Cool Choices 8-week sustainability and wellness program by forming teams and competing daily to log their sustainable actions online.

Participants can expect to save money and reduce their energy use, while also learning new ways to be green. The online game-based platform also collects great ideas from employees on greening the workplace; this means front-line employees can help identify specific and creative saving opportunities.


Shannon Bunsen Sustainability Specialist, UW Health

“We’re excited to try this new way of getting staff at UW Health engaged in sustainability and thinking about what it means in the context of healthcare. Cool Choices will give us an opportunity to build social capital around shared sustainability experiences and ideas,” said Shannon Bunsen, Sustainability Specialist, at UW Health.  

“Our Green STEPS and Wellness programs are very focused on the impact of individual behavior change, building teams and creating social norms with healthy, sustainable actions,” said Ellen Houston, Clinical Exercise Physiologist, UW Health. UW Health is customizing their Cool Choices implementation to highlight the link between wellness and sustainability. UW Health staff will be encouraged to adopt practices that are both good for the planet and good for employee wellbeing.

“Folks recognize that a number of sustainable practices—biking, taking the stairs vs. the elevator, and eating less red meat—also have very clear health benefits. Broader practices—like reducing energy and water use, managing waste streams, etc.—also affect our overall wellbeing,” noted Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director of Cool Choices, “so it’s terrific that UW Health is engaging its employees around these practices that affect wellness both directly and indirectly. A leader in healthcare, UW Health is also taking leadership on environmental responsibility. Cool Choices is delighted to be able to help them experiment with a fun and social model.”

UW Health has a dedicated history of environmental responsibility that includes a focus on patient and employee wellness. Recent initiatives include blue sterile wrap and plastic film recycling, new BCycle docking stations and the addition of a Farmers Market at the University Hospital. Learn more about UW Health’s deep commitment to a healthy environment here.

The Cool Choices team welcomes UW Health employees! We’re looking forward to seeing the momentum you’ll achieve and impact you’ll make during your 8-week program.

Curious about how our program could work for you? Watch our fun 40-second video to learn more!


Cool Choices Tip: Compost Food Scraps & Yard Waste

Compost Food and-or Yard WasteExperts estimate that about 25% of your trash is organic material that can be composted.

If you eat lots of fruits and veggies, you could even have more! With the right information, composting can be a simple, yet important, step you can take to be more green.

Check out these links for more composting information:



Beyond the Game: Tina’s Sustainability Story


Photo courtesy of Tina C. – 2016

To highlight the cool things our alums do after taking part in the Cool Choices online sustainability game, we’ll be sharing monthly stories submitted by past participants. Our alumni always impress us by taking sustainable practices to the next level.

This month we were inspired by Tina’s sweet story of working together with her granddaughter…

What green activities have you been up to since taking part in the Cool Choices program?
When I take my granddaughter to the park we go around and pick up trash after we are done playing to help our earth stay clean!

Do you have any tips for others trying to be sustainable?
We make it into a game! Always teach your kids about the importance of our planet, it’s our home and it’s up to us to take care of it.

Tina took part in the Cool Choices online sustainability game in 2014 with Outagamie County. Inspired by Tina’s sustainability story? Remember, you can make a difference! Cool Choices is creating a new platform, Connected, where our Cool Choices alumni can share their sustainability stories and inspire others. We’ll share more details about Connected soon!


ComEd Chooses Cool Choices for Employee Sustainability Awareness Initiative


Cool Choices is enthusiastic about a new partnership with ComEd, an electric utility that provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers in Illinois.

ComEd is recognized for their commitment to the environment and this week they’re launching the Cool Choices 8-week employee engagement sustainability program. ComEd employees will take a few minutes each day to compete as teams to report the greatest number of sustainable actions.

The Cool Choices online platform and game is customized and branded specifically for ComEd’s implementation to increase engagement in and awareness of company-wide sustainability initiatives.

“ComEd understands the challenges in engaging people around sustainability–this is a quest they tackle every day. We are delighted to be able to help them experiment with a fun and social model,” said Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director of Cool Choices.

Welcome ComEd staff! We know you’ll have fun, save money and take sustainable actions that have a measurable impact in your game of Cool Choices.


A Game that Inspires Climate Action


Team “Seventhwave Wavemakers” of Seventhwave organized their own e-waste drive during their game of Cool Choices.

In a game of Cool Choices, new actions are released every day. Players compete as teams to see who can take the greatest number of sustainable actions such as biking to work, turning off the lights when leaving a room, choosing a meatless meal and recycling.

Over and over, we see teams and players get inspired during the game to take on a project that goes beyond the actions in the game.

For example, a Cool Choices team recently decided to organize their own e-waste drive. This was not something we suggested they do to earn points. The team had an idea while playing Cool Choices so they took on this larger project. Cool Choices, a game that takes minutes to play, brought this team together, got them talking and inspired a whole new initiative.

A culture that embraces sustainability is contagious. It feels good to see people around you who want to do their part, big or small. If we can make sustainability visible, we’ll inspire a ripple effect where your actions inspire mine and mine inspire someone else’s. The growing momentum creates and reinforces a sense of efficacy. The more of us the better; like the team of people pictured, let’s take sustainability beyond the game, into our homes, workplaces, consumer choices and communities.

Together, we CAN embrace (and enjoy) being more sustainable. Together, with some innovation and inspiration, we can address climate change.

Curious about how Cool Choices can help your organization save money and get sustainable? Contact us and we’ll get back to you with more information.

Webinar: Games to Combat Climate Change

iphone-outline2Can a game prompt change? Can people have fun while addressing serious issues like climate change?

Learn the benefits of a game-based approach in this free 30-minute webinar.

You’ll come away from the webinar with new tips you can begin using immediately in your own sustainability efforts!

March 18th | 12pm-12:30pm CST
(1pm-1:30pm EST)

Register Now


Let’s Hear It for the General Public!

In case you did not notice, we are all trying to do our part.

Two recent surveys suggest that the vast majority of Americans are making an effort to save energy and reduce their emissions.

In a national survey by the Energy Center of Wisconsin, 73% of respondents said that they had done something in the last year to save energy with the average respondent reporting four specific actions. The most common actions reported were installing more efficient lighting and adjusting the thermostat. Similarly, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found:

An overwhelming majority, 89 percent, of the public reports personally doing something to try to save energy in the past year, with day-to-day actions, such as turning off lights, turning down the heat, and driving less and walking or biking more reported most often.

These are, of course, self-reports but there is evidence—like the downward trend in vehicle miles traveled and the uptick in sales of fuel efficient vehicles—that suggests Americans are taking more steps towards environmentally sustainable choices.

This is great news and it merits a big pat on the back—some positive reinforcement for everyone.

One form of reinforcement is the dollar savings associated with these actions but we know that the financial impact of an individual’s actions can be hard to see.

People need other kinds of reinforcement and experts tell us recognition is the best encouragement of all. Put simply, people need someone to notice and praise their efforts to save energy so that they feel encouraged to do even more. But when I adjust the thermostat at home to save energy my neighbors and friends are oblivious. Heck, half the people living in my house do not notice the change.

Cool Choices generates positive reinforcement through our games.  Game participants report their environmentally sustainable actions (which makes those actions visible to others) and by doing so they earn points (a form of recognition) for the actions. We also use game mechanics to give people opportunities to show off their changes (via pictures, stories, etc.) and to recommend specific actions to other participants. Through the process, participants learn that others in their community share their commitment to sustainability and that, together, these individuals can achieve substantive results.

We hope others will follow our lead in celebrating change. If you are doing the right things, think about how you can make your actions more visible to those around you and, alternatively, when you see someone else doing the right thing take a moment to applaud their efforts.

It feels good to do your part but it feels even better when your community celebrates your efforts and you can see how those simple changes add up to big results.