Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Engage the Community

Promoting voluntary actions and encouraging behavior change, even if the changes are small, can have a big impact on mitigating climate change, saving energy, and building sustainable communities. For example, according to ENERGY STAR, if every American household switched just one inefficient light bulb to a different one certified by ENERGY STAR, the amount of saved energy could light 2 million homes for a year, save about $460 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 6 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Framework pages


The guidelines presented here are intended to assist local entities such as municipalities, non-profits, and community groups in designing and implementing efforts to promote such actions and change. Programs to encourage voluntary actions and behavior change could include:

  • Promoting residential and commercial energy efficiency (e.g., conducting a small business energy efficiency challenge, encouraging residents to adopt pledges to reduce energy use, providing financial and technical assistance for residential energy audits and retrofits, promoting participation in ENERGY STAR’s National Building Competition).
  • Increasing community renewable energy production or consumption (e.g., conducting outreach to encourage voluntary purchases of renewable energy, providing rebates for solar energy installation, encouraging residents and businesses to invest in community solar projects).
  • Reducing community waste (e.g., offering a curbside recycling service, conducting outreach and training to initiate a composting program, organizing a community-wide paper-shredding day to promote paper recycling)
  • Encouraging alternate transportation (e.g., distributing resources on alternate transportation such as walking and biking maps or bus schedules and a few free bus passes, promoting a community-wide bike-to-work challenge).
  • Promoting sustainable land use (e.g., hosting a forum to promote the use of smart growth, transit-oriented development, and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), neighborhood development principles in parcel or neighborhood design, providing financial incentives for more compact development, conducting outreach and training on green gardening practices to conserve water and protect the soil).
  • Promoting community resilience (e.g., conducting demonstration projects of strategies that reduce the urban heat island effect such as green roofs, cool roofs, cool pavements, permeable pavements, and urban forestry; setting up a neighborhood check-in system during extreme weather events).

The following key steps focus on developing programs to encourage the adoption of voluntary actions and behavior change by a community’s residents, businesses, and visitors. Information on adopting a policy in the form of a plan, ordinance, regulation, or other mechanism to mandate sustainable actions is covered under Adopt a Policy. Information on projects or programs to make changes to government operations is covered under Promote Green Government Operations.

The key steps presented here describe how to design and roll out voluntary programs, including crafting effective outreach campaigns and continually monitoring and adjusting the activity based on feedback from stakeholders and measured outcomes.

To be connected with a local representative with experience implementing these types of programs, contact us.

Engage the Community FlowchartView Diagram

Engage diagram

Key Steps

Printer IconPrintable Checklist

Here we discuss the key steps in designing and implementing a voluntary program. The steps in the process are not necessarily intended to be pursued in linear order, as illustrated in the diagram. For example, engaging stakeholders and taking care of administrative steps will likely occur throughout the process, and the design of program mechanics, the outreach plan, and outreach materials may change based on stakeholder feedback and measured outcomes.

  • Step 1: Identify General Program Parameters

    The first step in designing a voluntary program is to clearly define the goals and objectives, identify the specific activity you would like to undertake, understand the target audience, and characterize the general context and resource availability.

    Is there a specific need or momentum for a voluntary program that would benefit your community? For example, if the cost of waste management in your community recently increased, is there a company that would like to initiate or expand a compost program? Did your city planners recently attend a conference where they learned about voluntary programs in similar communities? Did a recent climate change action plan identify transportation or buildings as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in your community? Does a new energy regulation present opportunities for implementing a voluntary energy saving program?

    Start by clearly identifying the goals and the type of program that your community wants to pursue. Visit the Set Goals & Select Actions phase for guidance on how to articulate specific goals and identify actions.

    After you have defined the type of program and its goals, identify your target audiences or sectors (e.g., commercial businesses, utilities, community groups, congregations, schools, or particular neighborhoods). Conduct preliminary research to understand the overall characteristics, interests, needs, and activities of the audiences, as well as their likely response to a voluntary program. Visit the Reach Out & Communicate phase for more information on understanding audiences.

    As you define the initial scope of the program, you may want to consider the types and amounts of available resources (e.g., budget, staff availability, and capabilities). Visit the Obtain Resources phase for guidance on how to identify and pursue the resources needed to support a project or program.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The City of Eugene, Oregon (pop. 157,986) had developed significant bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, but realized that those investments alone were not enough to maximize the number of people biking or walking. Based on the City of Portland’s TravelSmartExit pilot, Eugene implemented an individualized marketing program called SmartTrips to encourage adoption of alternate transportation. The specific goals of the program were to decrease driving trips, reduce carbon emissions associated with driving, and increase walking, bicycling, and public transit. The first program was implemented in the Harlow neighborhood in 2010.

    During the summer of 2011, the city secured a Climate Showcase Communities grant from EPA to expand the SmartTrips program. Considering the available funding, the city decided to focus on three centrally located neighborhoods: Trainsong, Whiteaker, and Jefferson/Westside. The program was called SmartTrips: Central and targeted a total of 6,300 households.

    The city selected these neighborhoods due to their potential to achieve a substantial shift in transit mode, based on transit service availability, walking/bicycling infrastructure, and local destinations such as pedestrian-friendly business districts, parks, schools, and downtown. Environmental justice was another priority factor. The selected neighborhoods have a significant percentage of residents living below the poverty line, are more ethnically diverse, and face greater transportation barriers and receive fewer services than more affluent, less-diverse neighborhoods.

  • Step 2: Research Similar Programs

    When designing programs, it is helpful to build off of existing programs—whether by collaborating with ongoing programs or building on lessons learned from past programs.

    Start your research by identifying any complementary (or competing) programs in your community, state, or region. Look for programs that target the same audience or address the same topic. Consider whether you could combine your efforts or otherwise collaborate with existing programs, and consider any lessons learned from these programs on how to best engage your audience.

    Next, consider expanding the scope of your research to see what other communities are doing. Many communities around the country have implemented voluntary programs and can offer valuable resources. Learning from their experience can save you time and effort, and help you avoid pitfalls, make realistic goals, and develop a strong program. You may want to:

    • Look for national, regional, or local programs that are consistent with your goals, community type, local interest level, and available resources.
    • Identify best practices and potential programs to replicate.
    • Reach out to people who have implemented similar programs.
    • Identify the components of similar programs that are appropriate for your community.
    • Decide whether you want to tie into an existing program (e.g., a regional or national program) or create a new voluntary program in your community.

    LightbulbHelpful Tip:

    Leveraging or joining an existing program can provide a number of benefits. The existing program may be able to provide resources or other support. Even if you do not need the support or resources, it may be beneficial to join an existing program that is already widely recognized (e.g., ENERGY STAR®), reducing the need to build your program’s brand and making your program more easily and immediately recognizable.

    The following websites can help you search for existing voluntary programs:

    More key resources are available below. You might also consider subscribing to EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program Newsletters to learn about what other states and local communities are doing.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The City of Eugene’s SmartTrips: Central program was modeled after a successful TravelSmartExit pilot in Portland. The TravelSmart pilot area covered more than 14,000 people in Portland and was relatively expensive due to large data collection and analysis efforts. Following the completion of the TravelSmart pilot, Portland modified the program and launched Portland SmartTripsExit to reduce costs and add hands-on experiential activities.

    Eugene focused on the SmartTrips component of Portland’s program. Eugene’s staff participated in trainings and used outreach and other materials developed by Portland for SmartTrips. The Eugene program also reached out to another EPA Climate Showcase Communities grantee, the Sustainable Transport for a Sustainable Future program in Salt Lake City, Utah, to brainstorm ideas and share lessons learned.

    In addition, Eugene developed its Transportation Masters leadership training by building on the Climate Leadership Initiatives’ Climate Masters program. The Transportation Masters program offered a free, 4-hour training to interested community members in the targeted area. The participants learned about the impact of transportation choices on carbon emissions, "climate-positive" transportation choices, and strategies to engage others in their community. Then they each committed to 10 hours of service and served as peer leaders in the program’s outreach events.

    Following the success of its SmartTrips: Central program, Eugene is currently advising other local governments interested in implementing their own SmartTrips programs.

  • Step 3: Engage Stakeholders

    Once you have defined your program objectives, identified your target audience, and conducted research into similar programs, reach out directly to the target audience to deepen and refine your understanding of their values and motivations, as well as any barriers they face in taking the desired action. This can help you design an effective outreach plan and materials that resonate with them (see Step 5).

    Prepare a series of questions to discuss with representatives of the target audience. For example, for a sustainable transportation program, you might ask:

    • What is your current primary means of transportation?
    • What factors determine the transportation you use?
    • How do you get information about transportation options?
    • Do you ever walk, bike, carpool, or use public transit instead of driving alone?
    • What motivates you to use alternate transportation?
    • What inhibits you from using alternate transportation?
    • What would motivate you or make it easier for you to use alternate transportation?

    Present your ideas about the effort, including the results of your research, to the representative target audience and request their input and feedback on program options. In addition, use the opportunity to:

    • Identify focus groups within the target audience to help you develop and roll out your program.
    • Identify individuals or groups that can support your outreach efforts and build community support by spreading the word about the program, serving as model participants, and encouraging others to participate.
    • Solicit partners for program implementation. The implementers of past programs recommend working with community leaders and organizations that have a membership base (e.g., homeowner associations); that know what messages resonate with their members; and that can help you promote your program.

    LightbulbHelpful Tip:

    Professional focus groups can be expensive; to make the best use of focus groups, come prepared with program options to test and questions to discuss. You can also make use of key information sources and stakeholder groups, who might be less representative but can be quick sources of useful ideas about audiences and messaging.

    You may also want to engage community leaders and elected officials, since their support can increase the program’s relevance, significance, and effectiveness and may be necessary to put the program in place. Community leaders and elected officials can also provide guidance on how to best engage the community and can personally raise the visibility of the program.

    For example, in Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Jerry E. Abramson’s leadership was essential in bringing about the success of the city’s Kilowatt Crackdown 2008 campaign. The mayor led the effort by signing on as an ENERGY STAR partner and launching the ENERGY STAR Challenge in December 2007. He and the city's staff held meetings with business leaders to motivate them to join the ENERGY STAR Challenge and educate them about best practices to save energy. Mayor Abramson also personally recognized all Louisville buildings that earned the ENERGY STAR certification. His involvement throughout the program played an important role in increasing business participation in the campaign and driving its overall success.

    For more guidance on how to communicate with and engage partners in project design and implementation, visit the Reach Out & Communicate phase.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    To understand local needs and cultures, as well as the barriers residents face in adopting alternate transportation, SmartTrips: Central sent out a travel survey to all target-area households prior to the start of the program. The survey results revealed that habits and lack of information on transportation options were the two main barriers to a shift in transit mode. Additionally, demographic information showed that some households faced language or income barriers.

    SmartTrips: Central staff also traveled to the targeted neighborhoods and tried biking, walking, or riding a bus to identify obstacles to taking alternate transportation in the area. They continued to engage the target audience throughout the program (e.g., via the delivery of informational materials, through outreach events) to understand and tailor the program to local needs.

    Before rolling out the program, SmartTrips: Central presented its proposed activities to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee to get their feedback. The program also engaged the city mayor and city council members by inviting them to outreach events and including updates about the program in the city government’s weekly newsletter.

  • Step 4: Design Program Mechanics

    Green Home Challenge in Frederick, MarylandThe Green Homes Challenge program in Frederick, Maryland, organized an event at the Common Market, a community-owned natural foods store and café, which adopted a pledge to reduce energy use.Having conducted research into similar programs and engaged stakeholders to better understand the target audience, begin to integrate your findings and design your program. Clearly determine the behaviors you want to target and consider different incentive systems, for example:

    • Awards and recognition - Hold an energy efficiency competition with prizes; develop a sustainable certificate program; or promote the use of pledges.
    • Financial incentives - Advertise any federal, state, local, or utility rebates for solar energy installation.
    • Technical assistance - Provide assistance in the form of workshops, installation kits, or guidebooks.

    In addition, determine how the program will work. For example, will program interaction be Web-based, face-to-face, or a combination of both? Will you require participants to provide proof of their actions or will you rely on the honor system? How will participants report their actions, and how will you verify their reports? How will you distribute materials or incentives?

    As you develop the program mechanics:

    • Make sure that your program complies with all applicable local, state, and federal laws.
    • Get approvals from relevant organizations and individuals (e.g., local government departments, elected leaders) as needed.
    • Develop a budget plan to finance the full scope and duration of your program. Visit the Obtain Resources phase for guidance on how to identify and pursue the resources needed to support a project or program.
    • Develop a timeline for your program, taking into account staff availability and capacity.
    • Set up metrics to track and evaluate program success. Visit the Track & Report phase for guidance on how to develop an effective process to collect data, assess progress, and report on project outcomes.

    LightbulbHelpful Tip:

    For awards and certificate programs:

    • Use specific, clear, and consistent certification requirements.
    • Set the bar high to ensure that earning a certificate means actual change or progress.
    • Distribute professionally printed certificates that businesses are proud to display.

    For incentive programs:

    • Target incentives to encourage participation beyond the early adopters, who would likely make the change without any incentive.
    • Minimize administrative burdens to make it easy for people to obtain the incentives (e.g., provide residents with a few free bus passes as an automated part of vehicle registration).
    • Make technical assistance easy to obtain. Consider how the time and location of workshops and materials distribution can lower the barrier for participation.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    To close the information and habit gap, the SmartTrips: Central program organized educational activities and offered incentives to encourage residents in the targeted neighborhoods to try alternate transportation options. Residents could order a SmartKit with information about local walking, bicycling, or transit resources. In addition to educational materials such as brochures, guides, and manuals, a Biking Kit included a bicycle pant leg strap, a Walking Kit included a pedometer, and a Transit Kit included a free week of bus passes. Participants could also choose from one of the three free travel tools: a SmartTrips BPA-free metal water bottle, a SmartTrips umbrella, or a durable bandana walking and biking map. SmartTrips: Central staff delivered a total of 673 SmartKits by bicycle, and used the deliveries as opportunities to raise community awareness about the program.

    The program also engaged local businesses to offer discounts and donations to the program. For example, the program worked with three businesses to provide sweet treat samples along the 5-mile Sweet Treats Bike Ride. It also partnered with the City of Eugene’s Summer in the City series to encourage climate-friendly transportation to the series’ events.

    SmartTrips: Central encountered some challenges related to attendance and staffing during the program. As a lesson learned, the program recommended reducing the number of activities and events, while increasing partnerships with already trusted community networks and social service providers like affordable housing and retirement centers, to build on their existing activities. For example, the program plans to bring walking and biking kits to the events organized by partner organizations in the future.

  • Step 5: Design Outreach Plan and Materials

    Effective outreach and communication efforts are especially important for voluntary programs to motivate stakeholders to take action. Continue to work with the representative target population that you previously engaged (in Step 3) to to develop simple and clear messages that resonate with the broad target audience. Next, design an outreach plan and communications materials, such as social media content, e-mail, posters, fact sheets, Web pages, or newsletters to convey the messages to the target audience.

    LightbulbHelpful Tip:

    Telling stories can effectively encourage behavior change. Consider incorporating story-telling into your outreach materials, events, or strategies. Ask a peer to share his or her experiences in overcoming the barriers to behavior change. Peer-to-peer sharing can inspire and motivate others to take similar action. According to the Goodman CenterExit, good stories include the following elements:

    • A protagonist—a person the story is about
    • A goal—a direction for the story and an inciting incident that sets it in motion
    • Barriers—one or many obstacles that must be overcome in pursuit of the goal; more barriers make the story more compelling
    • Achievements—how the protagonist overcame the obstacles to achieve his or her goals
    • Resolution—how the situation was resolved; stories do not have to have a happy ending

    Visit the Key Resources section and the Reach Out & Communicate phase for additional guidance on ways to effectively communicate and market programs to the community.Green Gardener Day at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery The Sacramento County, California’s River-Friendly Landscaping program organized a Green Gardener Day at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery to educate residents on gardening measures to conserve water, protect the soil, and reduce the use of pesticides.To maximize the effectiveness of your outreach efforts, identify the best venues to reach your audience, such as specific media outlets (e.g., television, radio, newspapers, or social media), community organizations, or community events. You may also want to work with the local media in your outreach plan, as they can play a key role in disseminating your program’s messages to the community.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The SmartTrips: Central program used a multi-pronged approach to announce the activities of the program, including three print newsletters, mailed forms, reminder postcards, and non-print communications in weekly e-mails, on a websiteExit, and through social media posts on their FacebookExit and TwitterExit pages. The reminder postcards sent to residents who had not ordered a SmartKit were found to be effective in increasing response rate.

    SmartTrips: Central also partnered with organizations to engage the community via existing channels and networks. The program promoted its activities through the city’s and community groups’ event calendars, local businesses, and a local biking electronic newsletter.

    The program hosted 12 community events including group walks, guided bicycle rides, workshops, and the signature Eugene Sunday StreetsExit event, where the city closed three miles of streets to vehicular traffic, opening them up for people to bike, walk, skate, and dance through the streets. An estimated 2,000 people attended the event. SmartTrips staff also participated in other community events and offered information and advice to residents about multimodal transportation. In addition, the city installed 30 signs to clearly mark existing bike routes and infrastructure.

    To facilitate peer-to-peer story-telling and learning, the program launched the Transportation Masters program. Six community members received training on climate-friendly transportation and strategies to engage others in their community. They then staffed outreach events and advised their peers on alternate transportation options. The events were designed to bring together a mix of people, so that residents with more experience in alternate transport could share stories with and teach those who were less experienced. Furthermore, the City of Eugene is working to get a miniseries on a local TV station where they can interview past participants in the program.

    The program staff also stressed the importance of making resources and events accessible to the target audience. For example, they suggested that materials be translated for communities where English is primarily a second language, and events not be scheduled too early on Saturday mornings.

    Residents enjoying the Eugene Sunday Streets event.Residents enjoying the Eugene Sunday Streets event.

  • Step 6: Take Care of Administrative Steps

    Take care of necessary administrative steps throughout all phases of your program. Follow applicable entity policies and procedures. Administrative steps may include the following:

    • Identify a project manager to oversee implementation. Select a project manager that has both the capacity and the interest to achieve project success.
    • Acquire needed materials and services. Visit the Obtain Resources phase for more information on securing needed resources. Comply with your entity’s procurement policies/procedures to acquire needed materials and services. You may also need to write and issue a request for proposals (RFP) or request for quotations (RFQ) to procure materials and services.
    • Identify the organizations with accountability for each individual component of the program. Is it your organization, your partner organization, or your contractor?
    • Engage needed staff. If your entity has the capacity to do work in-house, identify the staff and resources necessary to complete the project. Alternatively, you might want to consider contractors or volunteers.

    Be sure to account for these administrative steps in your timeline to avoid delays in rolling out the program and staff burnout during program implementation.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The SmartTrips: Central program was carried out by one program manager, three interns, and two graphics and outreach staff. It also required some administrative support from two staff in the City of Eugene Public Works Department. A total of approximately 2.5 full-time equivalent staff members were required during the course of the program (from February 2010 to June 2012). The program also worked with a consultant in designing the surveys, evaluating the program results, and preparing the final report.

    One administrative challenge the program encountered was a delay in deliveries at the beginning of the program because all materials had not yet been printed. As a result, the program recommends that all materials should be prepared before the order forms go out.

    The program also faced staffing challenges in managing both the delivery of SmartKits and planning the Eugene Sunday Streets event towards the end of the program. The program quickly hired an additional intern to address this issue, but noted that in the future one staff person should be hired to focus solely on deliverables, and another to focus solely on planning the Eugene Sunday Streets event.

    Overall, the program found that it organized too many events, which stretched staff capacity and resulted in several events not being well-attended. It was emphasized that program coordinators should take on only the activities for which there are resources. Quality should be strived for, as opposed to quantity, to meet travel behavior change goals.

  • Step 7: Roll It Out!

    Once you have completed the previous steps, you will be ready to launch your program. Consider organizing an event to announce the program launch, and invite the engaged stakeholders, media, and other interested parties. Start implementing your outreach plan by distributing materials, placing media stories, or activating web pages to spread the word about your program. See the Reach Out & Communicate phase for more information.

    You may want to consider an incremental rollout allowing you to adjust the program over time, as needed. For example, you might start implementing a residential energy audit and retrofit program in just one district, or start with single-family homes, then expand to multi-family homes. Other options are to first implement a pilot program or to identify and foster early adopters. This will allow you to gain experience and refine your approach before launching at a larger scale.

    Consider recruiting early adopters, who can not only help you test your approach but can also be effective messengers for the program. When working with early adopters, you may want to hold regular check-in meetings to help them solve the challenges they face. Track their progress so that you have good data and results to show by the time you engage the mainstream audience. Tell the story of how they overcame barriers to take action, and ask them to help you with your outreach and communication efforts. However, be prepared that it may not be as easy to engage everyone else. Additionally, it may not be appropriate to use early adopters as program “ambassadors” if the rest of your audience cannot relate to them or if they tend not to stay on message and might misrepresent your program.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The City of Eugene implemented the SmartTrips program incrementally, starting with a pilot in the Harlow neighborhood, and then expanding to three centrally located neighborhoods with SmartTrips: Central. The program is currently being replicated in the neighboring City of Springfield since the Eugene SmartTrips program staff were able to secure grant funding from the State of Oregon for a regional program called SmartTrips: Lane that included both the City of Eugene and the City of Springfield.

  • Step 8: Monitor and Adjust

    During program implementation, facilitate ongoing conversations with stakeholders to collect feedback. You may want to track performance indicators (see the Track & Report phase) to measure progress and adjust the program over time. Metrics are instrumental to building momentum and reinforcing partnerships. Consider translating benefits into metrics that are meaningful to your audience (e.g., for hospitals, translate cost savings into the number of nursing jobs). EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator is a useful tool to translate greenhouse gas emission reductions into everyday terms. Document program materials throughout implementation, collect and analyze outcome data, and develop stories and videos to communicate results and lessons learned to the community.

    Visit the Track & Report phase for more information on how to develop an effective process to collect data, assess progress, and report on project outcomes.

    magnifying glassCase in Point:

    The SmartTrips: Central program evaluated residents’ shifts in travel behavior using pre- and post-program surveys that were mailed to all target area households. The survey included a 1-day trip diary to record the number, transportation mode, and purpose of trips taken; opinion questions regarding attitudes about active transportation programs and travel habits; and demographic questions. The mode shift calculated from the survey data was used to estimate reductions in daily and annual vehicle miles traveled among target area households. According to survey results, the targeted areas saw a 7 percent decrease in drive-alone trips, a 22 percent increase in trips made by bicycle, and a 2 percent increase in walking trips. This is equivalent to 686,000 fewer vehicle miles per year, resulting in a reduction of 558,223 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

    SmartTrips: Central published a final report (19 pp, 4.05 M, About PDF) Exit to communicate results to the target audience, partner organizations, and other stakeholders such as regional and local government officials. Using these results, the City of Eugene was able to secure funding for the Regional SmartTrips program, and is working to get regular, dedicated funding from the State of Oregon. The report documents major successes, challenges, and lessons learned for future similar endeavors in both Eugene and other communities.

Case Studies

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Green Workplace ChallengeExit
A friendly challenge program where businesses and property owners receive recognition for sustainable actions and achievements.


Baltimore, Maryland: City Non-Profit Greenhouse Gas Reductions Program
A program through which undergraduate students receive training and conduct energy assessments for local non-profit organizations.


Salt Lake City, Utah: Sustainable Transportation for a Sustainable Future
A Climate Showcase Communities program that used community-based social marketing to reduce vehicle miles traveled and accompanying emissions. A toolkit is available to help organizations seeking to replicate the program.

Alameda County, California: Industrial Packaging Prevention and Reuse Project
A project that helps organizations to reduce waste generation by converting to more durable, reusable packing materials.

Berkeley, California: Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar TechnologyExit
A program that allows property owners to borrow money from the city’s sustainable energy financing district to install solar photovoltaic electric systems.

Tools and Templates

ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager
An energy management tool that allows tracking of energy and water consumption across an entire portfolio of buildings.


ENERGY STAR® Challenge Toolkit
Communication materials that provide information on energy efficiency and how to get involved with ENERGY STAR, including sample event ideas and promotional items to set up an ENERGY STAR Challenge.


ENERGY STAR® Home Energy Yardstick
Tool that provides a simple assessment of one home’s annual energy use compared to similar homes in the country. 

EPA's Green Power Partnership Publications and Resources
Information on green power purchasing and how to get involved in the Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use renewable energy.

Further Reading

Fostering Sustainable Behavior, Community-Based Social MarketingExit
Resources on promoting sustainable behaviors, including the book Fostering Sustainable Behavior by Doug McKenzie-Mohr; a searchable databases of articles, case studies, and strategies; and a discussion forum.


ENERGY STAR® Energy Efficiency Competition Guide
Guide that provides step-by-step guidance on how to set up and run an energy efficiency competition.


EPA’s Effective Practices for Implementing Local Climate and Energy Programs
A series of 19 tip sheets based on direct feedback from the Climate Showcase Communities covering topics like incentive techniques and award and certificate programs.


DOE’s Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local GovernmentsExit
U.S. Department of Energy guide that provides a range of field-tested policy and program options to assist local governments and stakeholders in building sustainable local solar markets.

EPA would like to acknowledge Justin Lehrer (StopWaste, Alameda County, California), Tobin Freid (Sustainability Division, Durham County, North Carolina), and Andrew Kreider (U.S. EPA Region 3) for their valuable input and feedback as stakeholder reviewers for this page, as well as Lindsay Selser (City of Eugene, Oregon) for her contributions to the SmartTrips case study.