Achieving Multiple Objectives
Cool Choices launched a free county-wide program for Waukesha County businesses and residents in October 2017. Our aim was to inspire people to adopt sustainable practices that save energy, water, and gasoline while reducing landfill waste.
We worked with local business leaders—chambers of commerce and county workforce development officials—to implement the program. For these partners an important benefit of the program was helping local businesses interact with their employees around sustainability—a strategy that can lead to increased employee engagement, which correlates with increased profitability.
Savings Were Outstanding!
More than 500 people reported at least one cool choice as part of the program and in total participants logged more than 31,000 choices associated with energy savings at work and home, travel choices, water usage, and waste management. Participants can save almost $225,000 annually by continuing to make these cool choices!
The electric savings are sufficient to power 77 Wisconsin homes for a year.
The total gasoline savings are equivalent to about 2,113 fill-ups assuming a 15-gallon tank.
The total carbon dioxide emission reductions are equivalent to taking 926 car trips from Los Angeles to New York City.
Under our proprietary methodology, we also know what portion of the savings came from brand-new actions versus those associated with existing practices. Those insights empower our partners to refine their communications to target the actions with the greatest savings potential.
In the post-program survey participants reported that their efforts to save energy, water and gasoline had increased substantially as part of the program. On energy, for example, the percentage of respondents reporting considerable efforts (4 or 5 on the 5 point scale) went from 44% to 85%.
And savings are not limited to participants’ homes. More than 75% of participants reported that they are more likely to turn off lights at work after the program.
Engagement Went Up Too
Before the program, less than 1 in 5 respondents (just 18%) talked with co-workers weekly about sustainability; the program prompted that number to more than double to 44% having at least weekly conversations. Participants also reported increases in conversations with family, friends and neighbors.
The conversations matter because talking about sustainability influences the actions of others while it reinforces an individual’s identity as a person who makes sustainable choices—it has a multiplier effect, influencing others while reinforcing your own actions. More, these conversations can uncover shared values: we ask participants, before and again after the program, to tell us how important they think sustainability is to themselves, their family, friends, etc. In Waukesha County we saw a 50% increase in the percentage of participants saying that sustainability was important to their friends—a change that likely came (at least in part) from the increased number of conversations people had with their friends.
Also important is the momentum forward: as part of the program participants identified more than 1,800 ways their workplaces and communities could do more to save energy, water and other resources. We’re sharing those ideas back with the participating businesses and our community partners to facilitate deeper actions forward.
And People Had Fun!
Participants always have fun making cool choices—this is clear from the photos they share with us! We make having fun a priority, so that participants develop positive impressions of sustainable living. Besides, fun is contagious! In the Waukesha County program we asked participants what they liked about the program and they said:
- It felt good to be part of a coordinated effort addressing issues of sustainability.
- It’s easy and reminds you to do smart things.
- I liked seeing how creative some folks got about their different actions.
- [I liked] the friendly competition in the office.
- My team mates made it fun, we kept reminding each other to play.
- I was doubtful how well my coworkers would do. It was fun seeing them and our company really get into the game.
About Cool Choices
Cool Choices is a non-profit organization that implements fun and effective sustainability programs that motivate people to adopt practices that save energy, water, and fuel–both at home and work.
The community-scale program in Waukesha County was an opportunity to celebrate the advantages of increasing daily sustainable practices. Participation took just a few minutes a day, and built a “buzz” about sustainability. That buzz leads to increased workplace innovation, measurable savings for participants, and community pride.
Contact us to learn more about the various ways our program can help you accelerate sustainability in your community.
Businesses Across the County Participated in Cool Choices!
Cool Choices Partners:
These partners are helped recruit businesses to participate in the free program.