Conserving Energy in Your Town
A Tale of Two Towns
In late 2008, ANJEC began collaborating with the environmental commissions of two New Jersey towns-Summit and Hopewell Township--to create and field-test energy conservation campaigns that could be easily adapted and implemented by communities across the state. Summit's program is aimed at small businesses while Hopewell Township's campaign targeted residents.
The Environmental Commission developed the EQ Challenge to inspire good-natured rivalry among residents by having people track their utility bills each month to see who could accomplish the greatest improvement in reducing their household energy consumption.
- The project team developed a web site to explain the Challenge, offer energy-saving information and post updates on how much energy participants had saved.
- A member of the Environmental Commission worked with a consultant to create a a simple, online database to collect and analyze residents’ monthly energy usage data via the municipal web site. Dubbed the EQ Tracker, it allows participants to enter their monthly kilowatt hour usage and easily calculate their improvement over the same month the previous year.
- For more information on how to adapt the database program for use by other communities at a modest cost, contact the ANJEC Resource Center.
- The program was launched at two local annual events in May and October, where the Commission handed out flyers, displayed EQ Challenge posters at their large booth and signed up about 125 people to participate in the EQ Challenge.
- Two approaches helped the Commission attract booth traffic, engage people
in conversation about energy and sign up participants for the EQ Challenge.
- The team invited Project Porchlight personnel to distribute free compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs at the Commission's booth.
- At the second event, the EQ Challenge Board Game made its successful debut, challenging passersby to throw a pair of large foam dice and name energy saving strategies for various numbered areas of the home depicted on the game board. A brochure provides answers to the Challenge, a list of energy-saving resources and a miniature version of the game board so that people can play the game at home. Local governments may order the EQ Challenge game through ANJEC while supplies last.
- A set of display panels for use at local fairs and events has also been developed. The panels can be printed on an office printer, laminated and attached with Velcro on a portable tabletop display.
- A series of press releases on logo stationery led to stories published in the local newspaper about the EQ Challenge, including, photos, energy conservation tips and resources available through New Jersey's Office of Clean Energy. The Environmental Commission ultimately plans to challenge neighboring towns to compete in achieving the greatest total percentage of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction.
- Email messages have enabled the Commission to stay in touch with EQ Challenge participants and provide updates on the program.
- In 2010 the Environmental Commission plans to use the data collected through the EQ Tracker to identify and recognize EQ Challenge participants in several categories who achieve the greatest improvements in household energy conservation.
The Summit Environmental Commission has recruited and trained a number of young Summit Energy Ambassadors, who are educating small business owners about energy efficiency and getting them interested in making cost-saving improvements, many of which will be heavily subsidized through the NJ Office of Clean Energy's (OCE) Direct Install program.
The Energy Ambassador program offers multiple benefits by:
- helping prepare young people for green careers;
- making small businesses aware of the opportunities and incentives for becoming more energy efficient and saving money, especially the new Direct Install Program that provides free energy audits and pays for up to 80 percent of energy-saving improvements; and
- providing many great opportunities to talk about energy conservation in the media.
The project team secured the partnership of the local youth center and,
with guidance and input from a consultant* and the US
Partnership for Education in Sustainable Development, developed an Energy
Ambassador job description and training program that began with an all-day
adult mentor training followed by a series of eight after-school training
sessions for the youth ambassadors conducted by the Summit Environmental
Commission. The training includes:
- Coaching the ambassadors through practice energy surveys of the youth center building where the training takes place as well as their own homes;
- Having the ambassadors practice using the same survey checklist to uncover energy-saving opportunities in their own homes;
- Role playing with adult mentors acting in the role of business owners;
- Developing contact lists of local companies and using a script to make phone calls to set appointments for site visits;
- Having mentors or parents accompany ambassadors on visits to local businesses.
- Sending follow-up letters to business owners with recommendations for energy-saving improvements and available incentives and resources. (See sample letter)
The Energy Ambassadors developed their own work
plan to guide them through the process. They also set up a password-protected
Google Docs page that allows them to post appointments, view schedules,
share photos and collaborate on letters, scripts and status spreadsheets.
Energy Ambassadors wear a name badge and carry a clipboard bearing the program logo that they created. While the Summit Energy Ambassadors chose to design their own logo, this CD also contains a generic logo and program design that other towns can customize for their use. For example, participating companies can receive a certificate or window cling to display in their businesses, showing they are proud sponsors of the program.
The Summit Environmental Commission has been recruiting business sponsors and generating interest in the program by sending out press releases on program stationery to local newspapers, giving slide presentations before local groups and distributing a program brochure. A poster was also developed to promote the program in public locations around town.
*While communities can use the materials in this kit to develop their own Energy Ambassador program without outside assistance, ANJEC has arranged for available training and support for mentors an/or youth ambassadors at a reasonable cost. Please contact the ANJEC Resource Center for more information.
The materials in this kit were developed through an ANJEC partnership with the Environmental Commissions of Hopewell Township & the City of Summit, with funding from the NJ Board of Public Utilities.