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Encouraging individuals to engage in more sustainable patterns of behavior is challenging, but effectively confronting climate change will require sweeping behavioral change. While purely educational campaigns have had limited success in changing individuals’ habits, innovative competitions, online tools, and community-based social marketing are motivating households to make lasting behavioral changes that lead to more sustainable lifestyles.
In Frederick County, Maryland, the Green Homes Challenge guides, rewards, and recognizes households for saving energy, adopting green lifestyle practices, and using renewable energy.
The Green Homes Challenge uses a point-system on an online tool to certify households at three levels. The first level of certification is the Power Saver level, which focuses on community education and engagement, home energy audits, and energy-saving actions and retrofits. The second level of certification is a Green Living Leader certification, which rewards different point totals for sustainable transportation choices, waste management habits, food choices, cleaning materials outdoor and yard activities, and house office behaviors. Lastly, residents can earn the Sustainable Star certification level, which requires the installation of a renewable energy system and allows residents to take advantage of local, state and federal incentives as well as mini grants through the Green Homes Challenge.
The Green Homes Challenge was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Showcase Communities grant program, which Climate Communities helped to conceive. More than 1,400 participants have taken the Challenge so far, resulting in a reduction of over 7,400 total tons of CO2 and $775,314 in total estimated annual savings across Frederick County. In addition to providing support and one-on-one coaching to all Challenge Takers to complete the challenges and become certified Power Savers, Frederick County published the Green Leader Handbook and a variety of other resources to guide participants. Certified households get celebrated at an annual recognition event and entered into annual prize drawings. Frederick County is now working to help other communities replicate their successful program.
Lisa Orr, Sustainability Program Coordinator at Frederick County Office of Environmental Sustainability, presented about the evolution of the Green Homes challenge, its successes and challenges, and plans for the future on Climate Communities' October 9th webinar. For more information on the Green Homes Challenge, you can view the webinar in the Climate Communities webinar archive.
Frederick County, Maryland