Education is one
of the most important long-term initiatives that a city can use to
address its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through education, a city
gains greater engagement and support from the community to reduce carbon
emissions. At the same time, education fosters critical thinking and
nurtures the environmental leaders and experts of the future.
There is no right
way a city should go about creating an education initiative, but many
cities are trying different programs with great success. A few will be
highlighted in case studies below. The most important thing to remember
is that in order to create a successful education initiative, people
must be interested, engaged and feel that they can take steps in their
own lives to make a difference.
educate communities on climate change and GHG reduction include:
Create a challenge for local schools to meet, such as reducing their
school’s energy use or reducing waste. Give the winning school or class
a prize (such as a field trip, school event, award or prize related to
reducing emissions). Some schools have offered faculty and students a
share of the savings they achieved by shutting off unneeded lights and
otherwise reducing energy waste. They have often been surprised by the
size of the resulting savings. Similar programs can be offered to the
facilities staff. Resulting awards can be used to increase staff
salaries, hold a party or buy needed equipment for programs. Or even
better, the savings can go into a fund to capitalize further savings.
Develop a curriculum for schools focused on a specific grade, specific
class or a course section for all grades. The curriculum can be either
optional or mandatory. Focus on making the curriculum engaging and
The electric utility BC Hydro worked with schools in the Vancouver area
to create a software program that students could use in their school to identify and capture energy savings, and another that
they could take home to do an audit of their own houses.
Community Emissions Reduction Challenges
Create a community-wide goal. For example, Burlington, Vermont
challenged the community to reduce carbon emissions 10% by 2010.
Provide incentives, education and resources for participants. The more
people know about the climate reduction program, the greater its likely
Distribute Educational Materials
Make educational materials widely accessible and engaging to all ages
and groups. Service clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, Boy and Girl Scouts.
Museum and Science Centers
Encourage local museums and science centers to include interactive,
hand-on displays on climate change and its relation to energy use.
Encourage and provide incentives to local schools to take students to
Engage Community Stakeholders
Successful education programs
incorporate local groups, experts and activists in all stages of the
planning and implementation processes. Refer to Chapter 5, Stakeholder
Engagement section for more information and resources.
In May of 2000, the City Council of Burlington adopted a
Climate Action Plan aimed at reversing the steady growth of GHG
emissions in the city of Burlington.
In April of 2002, the 10% Challenge program was launched as a
joint effort between the Mayor’s task force and community
leaders. The goal of the program was to encourage individuals,
households and businesses to reduce GHG emissions and to educate
communities in and around Vermont on the threat of global
climate change to the environment and the economy. The
program's goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 10% below 1997
emissions levels by 2010.
Since the program’s launch, 93 businesses and 1,200
residences have begun to reduce their global warming pollution.
Many cities near Burlington have
also joined the 10% Challenge. Employees in municipalities are
encouraged to create energy saving initiatives such as making
thoughtful decisions regarding consumption of office products,
turning office equipment on to “sleep” mode when not in use,
purchasing Energy Star equipment and buying office supplies in
bulk whenever possible.
Challenge provides the tools and the information people need to
conserve energy at home and at work.
emissions calculator helps businesses and residence calculate
their current annual greenhouse gas emissions and their target
emissions. Resources on the website give participants ideas on
how they can meet their goals. The program also provides
incentives and awards for participants who meet their 10%
The Town of Telluride,
Colorado launched the “Telluride Unplugged” Initiative in 2006.
Telluride Unplugged was a 6-week campaign focused on educating
and engaging the public about what they can do to reduce carbon
emissions. As a signer of the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection
Agreement, Telluride’s initiative is part of its effort to
reduce GHG emissions 7% by 2012.
Each week of the event focuses on a different area, with
themes ranging from energy efficient lighting to food to
The first week’s introduction began with a free screening
of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and a call for residents to
calculate their carbon footprint to provide each person with a
baseline for setting individual reduction goals. Carbon
footprint calculation worksheets were made available at the
public library, town hall and the local farmer’s market, as well
According to Karen Guglielmone, a Telluride public works
official, “Telluride Unplugged is the beginning of Telluride
government trying to engage the broader community in its efforts
to reduce our carbon footprint.”
CASE STUDY: SYNERGY, Actus Lend Lease
SYNERGY, which stands for Saving Your Nation’s Energy, is
an Actus Lend Lease
program that strives to reduce energy consumption through
community-based education efforts, portfolio-wide technological
solutions and symbiotic partnerships with our stakeholders.
SYNERGY is the only program in the real estate industry to take
this kind of comprehensive approach to the reduction of energy
usage—with a focus on both building efficiency and behavioral
SYNERGY has helped residents, businesses and organizations
throughout the country make substantial savings in energy use.
At Fort Campbell (Kentucky) and Fort Hood (Texas), SYNERGY has
assisted in reducing energy consumption by as much as 12% over
the same month the prior year. At Fort Drum (New York),
electricity costs plummeted $13,000 (or 14%) from May 2006 to
June 2006 as SYNERGY community programs and educational
efforts got underway.
and reviewing conservation tips with all new residents
resident activities “green” (see the EPA’s Guide to Green
rewarding consumption below the DOE’s normalized baseline
children’s activity books, complete with energy conservation
checklists and prizes for completion
national zoo educational staff to use characters in activity
books that promote endangered species
awareness and protection
technology, like COSMEO from Discovery Learning, to residents to
test energy management behavior modification
Sustainability and Innovation Coordinator—Actus Lend Lease
CASE STUDY: State of Maine
Energy Education Program (MEEP)
is a non-profit organization begun in 1985 with the goal of
helping citizens understand energy concepts so that they will be
capable of making informed energy decisions. MEEP has developed
various free projects and workshops for 4th through
12th grade teachers to implement in the classroom.
MEEP’s Green Schools Program gives students the chance to
monitor the energy use of their school. Classrooms are given
incentives to win energy challenges and to save their school’s
energy and money.
For example, in
the Vending Mi$er Challenge, classes are lent a “Vending Miser”
which saves energy by cycling down vending machines compressor
when it is not in use. The class monitors the amount of energy
used by the vending machine without the miser and with the miser
and then calculates the energy savings (usually around 50%). If
the class presents their findings to the administration or
facilities, MEEP will donate a Vending Miser to the school.
Another one of
MEEP’s most popular projects is the Model Solar Car
Competition where students actually build their own solar cars
and then race them in a competition. As of 2006, eight to ten
communities in Maine are involved in MEEP.
Peter Zack, Jr.
education for a sustainable community
was a concept developed in 1975 due to growing concern over the
city’s explosive growth and the effects such expansion could
have on the quality and supply of water, open space, waste
disposal community as well as by schools.
interpretive approach of the book is designed systems, the built
environment and the general quality of life. The city of
Albuquerque, Albuquerque Public Schools and local volunteers
produced a teacher’s resource book on environmental education.
The final product, Albuquerque’s Environmental Story (AES), was first printed in 1978.
became more than a teachers’ resource book, and served as a
basis for a unique environmental
education program for use by the general adult to heighten
readers’ awareness, enhance their capacity to enjoy the beauty
surrounding them and to develop a sense of social and
environmental stewardship in readers. AES is interdisciplinary
and stresses critical thinking. It is structured to add
relevance to and augment the teaching of basic skills for young
deal with the basic problem of adding environmental education to
an already crowded curriculum by making it possible to infuse
these materials easily into the existing required curriculum.
Educators who have used the book have found this to be an
approach that promotes awareness, knowledge, valuing and
responsibility, while making the prescribed curriculum more
The second and
third editions of AES were
published in 1985and1996. Even though there are no newer
published editions, the online version is frequently updated and
many local schools still use AES as a part of their curriculum. In addition, the AES has served
as a model for many other cities and has been replicated with
success in southern Florida in The Dade County Environmental
Story and The Florida Key’s Environmental Story.
Albuquerque’s website provides information on how to replicate a
resource book in your community and allows you to view the text
School Initiatives and Curriculum:
Climate Change Education.Org. Website dedicated to education on global
warming and climate change. Offers science, solutions, curriculum and
The Sierra Club
has released a guide, “Cool Cities: Solving Global Warming One City at a
Time.” The guide explains the steps toward making cities “cool” and
tells success stories from a broad range of cities, from greening
municipal vehicle fleets with hybrid cars in Houston and Charlotte;
energy efficient street lights and buildings in Salt Lake City and
Scottsdale, Arizona; to renewable energy investments in Waverly, Iowa
and Columbia, Missouri. The guide is available online at
Museum and Science Center Resources:
The Colorado Energy Science Center School Program teaches students about the sources of energy and the economics and
environmental issues associated with energy use. For the 2006-2007
school year, CESC offers the following programs to students, teachers
Energy Hog Traveling Road Show—interactive school
assembly program that teaches 3rd-6th grade students about the sources
of energy, how we waste energy and how to conserve energy
Energy Science in the Home:
Hands-on Activities for the Middle Grades—inquiry-based program that helps students explore the dynamics of home energy use through investigations that integrate math, science and economics
Home Energy Investigation Contest event for middle and
high school students which is a project-based learning experience to
investigate home energy use; home energy efficiency, and; improvements
in home energy efficiency