Tag: Wisconsin


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!


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.


Comparisons Matter

2000px-Energy_Star_logo.svgWe talk a lot about the importance of social norms—that people are influenced by the actions of their peers. The power of norms isn’t limited to individuals—businesses also strive to look good compared to their competition. That is why businesses tout the awards they win for quality, customer service and, yes, even energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager facilitates business comparisons of energy use in buildings. Offered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the free software enables property managers and owners to see how their properties stack up against similar types of buildings. Stakeholders can also use the software to earn ENERGY STAR certification for the most efficient buildings.

Because we know comparisons matter, Cool Choices was pleased to partner with the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council (WSBC) on a report characterizing ENERGY STAR certified buildings in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin ENERGY STAR report, “Leaders in Efficiency: ENERGY STAR Buildings in Wisconsin,” details the types of ENERGY STAR buildings certified (schools dominate), the cities with the most buildings and other fun facts—including a photo of one ENERGY STAR certified building in Wisconsin that was built in 1857.

Buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR certification are more energy efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings around the country and use, on average, 35 percent less energy. Buildings that get recertified annually are on average even more efficient.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings in Wisconsin represent nearly 72 million square feet of floor space in the state. Publicizing Wisconsin successes and showcasing leaders in ENERGY STAR certification—can inspire other building owners and managers to use ENERGY STAR portfolio manager to benchmark their buildings. More benchmarking leads to more ENERGY STAR certifications, reducing energy costs and increasing resource efficiency—which is a win for everyone.


Green & Healthy Schools Cool Choices Launch

green-healthy-schoolsIn 2013 Wisconsin Green & Healthy Schools (GHS) and Cool Choices partnered to create a Cool Choices-GHS game – and more than 30 Wisconsin schools began using the online sustainability game in early 2014! The game—which is free to GHS participating schools—provides a fun, social and easy path to reduced resource usage, improved health and wellness, and increased environmental literacy in Wisconsin’s PK-12 public and private schools.

Cool Choices customized its game platform for GHS, which is a partnership between the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education. The Cool Choices game will help participating schools engage their students, faculty and staff, while providing a streamlined approach to tracking sustainable actions in schools.

Cool Choices is delighted to support this innovative statewide effort that includes schools from urban to rural Wisconsin. Ultimately the program could reach all 3,000+ Wisconsin PK-12 schools.


Cool Choices & Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Announce Strategic Partnership

CC-and-WSBXCool Choices and Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Announce Strategic Partnership

Madison, WI – July 22, 2013 – Cool Choices and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, two leaders in promoting sustainable business practices, have established a formal partnership to streamline operations, leverage expertise and increase stakeholder value. Cool Choices, a nonprofit promoting environmentally sustainable practices, has previously partnered with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council on the Council’s annual business-to-business sustainability conference and their annual state sustainability report. The Council, an organization serving Wisconsin businesses, was established in 2008 and runs the Green Masters Program in addition to the annual conference.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council,” said Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director of Cool Choices. “The Council has done a terrific job of recognizing and celebrating Wisconsin businesses that are leading on sustainability. As a state leader in employee engagement around sustainability, Cool Choices sees the partnership as a great way of linking our expertise to the Council’s existing successes so that Wisconsin businesses can maintain a competitive and sustainable advantage going forward.”

“Businesses recognize the economic, social and environmental benefits to adopting sustainable initiatives – and through our Green Masters Program and annual conference they learn, develop and implement effective strategies to move them toward sustainability,” said Tom Eggert, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. “Our partnership with Cool Choices shines a light on the great opportunity state businesses have to leverage a successful and innovative employee engagement program to meet their sustainability goals.”


Cool Choices
Established in 2009, Cool Choices inspires and assists individuals, communities and businesses to adopt practices reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. A Madison-based nonprofit, Cool Choices seeks to make smart practices the norm by making sustainable actions fun, social and easy. For more information visit www.coolchoices.com

Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
Established in 2008, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council works with businesses in the state interested in becoming leaders in sustainability. It serves businesses at all stages of development by educating, facilitating information exchange, and providing recognition and support. The Council, which hosts an annual business conference and issues an annual State of the State Sustainability Report, seeks to promote Wisconsin as a gathering place for innovative and sustainable business. For more information visit www.wisconsinsustainability.com


The Convincers | Student Sustainability Initiatives

“I convinced my family to carpool.”

“I got my dad to start recycling.”

Cool Choices is in the midst of an amazing partnership with some marvelous teachers at Waunakee High School. The teachers—along with students on their green team—are leading an effort to change commuting habits at the high school. And, along the way, they are also changing practices in households throughout the community.

The effort began last year when two WHS teachers applied for a small grant Cool Choices offered through the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP). The teachers used the grant to implement a multi-year effort to analyze and affect commuting habits at their school. When classes started in September they launched a competition where students and staff get points for reporting how they got to school each day, with extra points for the greener options. Organized into teams based on school clubs, students can win prizes throughout the 9-week competition.

Students and staff can also get ‘extra credit’ points for other environmentally sustainable actions like using re-usable lunch containers, doing a sustainable project in the community or by convincing their family members to be more sustainable.

We’re finding the student efforts at home to be quite inspiring. Almost 300 students and staff are participating in the competition (in a school population of 1,200) and thus far about 1 in 5 players have reported at least one effort to increase their family’s sustainable practices. Required to share details about their efforts, participants tell us …

  • “I got all of my sisters to bring reusable containers for their lunches today instead of paper bags!”
  • “I convinced my family to turn off lights before they leave rooms.”
  • “Instead of using the plastic bags at the grocery store, I convinced my mom to buy 5 of the reusable cloth bags.”
  • “I convinced my family to turn down the heat, because I mean COME ON people, it’s still technically summer, and why would we buy warm clothes if we weren’t going to wear them?”
  • “Instead of buying all these plastic water bottles, I got them to change to using cups or re-usable water bottles, which also saves money!”
  • “We switched to more energy efficient light bulbs!”
  • “I had my mom take a re-usable bag for lunch today and we’re eating more vegetables and fruit at dinner.”
  • “We take shorter showers”
  • “I convinced my parents to carpool to work.”
  • “My brother took a re-usable water bottle to football practice.”
  • “I asked my parents to turn down the water heater!”
  • “I was waiting in the car while my dad went into Sam’s Club and instead of keeping the car on and listening to the radio, I suggested that I turn it off and listen to my iPod.”

These stories demonstrate that students are really engaged and that they are doing a good job engaging their parents and siblings. This shared engagement is critical; it is easier for us to maintain habits when those habits are shared. More, just talking about one opportunity can lead to other opportunities.

The Waunakee project demonstrates the power of young people as the spokespeople for sustainability. A fun competition is inspiring teenagers to advocate for shorter showers, to convince their parents and siblings to adopt greener practices.

We are excited to watch these young people emerge as sustainability advocates in their homes and in their community. From our vantage point, the future looks just a little bit brighter when we look toward Waunakee these days.