Want to Green Your City? Try a Game-Based Approach!


Residents and businesses in Madison, WI go green with the help of an online game.

Interested in mobilizing an entire city around sustainability? A game can help.

A Cool Choices player earns points for biking instead of driving.

A Cool Choices player earns points for sustainable actions, such as biking instead of driving.

In 2015 the City of Madison (WI) asked Cool Choices to implement online community-wide games to inspire behavior change, reduce energy use and mobilize the city around sustainability initiatives. This is part of the City’s effort to win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. During the summer Cool Choices implemented a game with City employees and in September we launched our first community-wide game as part of Green Madison.

To date, Cool Choices has been implemented primarily in workplaces—we help our partners, whether private firms or public agencies, engage employees around sustainable practices. Our online employee engagement game makes it fun, social and easy for individuals to save money, reduce waste and become part of the solution.

Some have asked whether the Cool Choices game could work in other kinds of communities like churches or neighborhoods or even across multiple workplaces. Naturally we’ve had theories, but now we’ve got evidence.

A Municipal Sustainability Initiative & Real Results


Everyone’s actions add up!

The City of Madison community-wide game of Cool Choices involves almost 900 people on teams from more than 40 different businesses, neighborhood associations and community groups. These participants have reported more than 41,000 “cool choices” (sustainable actions), representing over $240,000 in annual savings.

More, Madison’s community-wide game is creating conversations about sustainability in multiple venues across the city. Participants who rent earned points for having conversations with their landlords about efficiency upgrades; homeowners are sharing their conservation strategies in the game’s social stream and, as always, players are posting photos that show off their new sustainable practices.


Teams from American Family Insurance taking part in the city-wide game of Cool Choices.

Implementing a game at the municipal level involves more challenges than a single-business game, to be sure, but there are also more rewards. By celebrating the sustainable actions various Madison participants are taking we’re shifting the conversation and building momentum at a community-wide level. After playing Cool Choices participants are empowered—they know their actions matter and they see themselves as part of a community that shares a commitment to reduce waste and preserve natural resources.

We’ll continue to implement additional rounds of the Cool Choices game in Madison in 2016. We are excited to see even more of what this impressive community will accomplish.

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

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