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Tips for Encouraging Your
Membership to Take Action
Palo Alto Non-Profits Go Green
April 14, 2009
Topics for Today
The problem of climate change
The power of individual action
Effective approaches
Acterra programs
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
The problem we face
Climate Change Basics
• Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane) trap
Sun’s heat within the atmosphere
• Earth heats up and climate patterns change -colder/hotter some places, more intense storms, etc.
• Sources of greenhouse gases: burning fossil fuels,
deforestation, livestock waste (methane)
• Negative feedback loops:
• Melting tundra emits even more methane
• Albedo effect: heat energy reflects from white ice,
is absorbed by dark ocean water
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
A Planetary Emergency
“We are in imminent peril. We have at most 10 years — not
10 years to decide upon action — but 10 years to alter
fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse
emissions and take significant actions to reduce them.
“If not, we will hit a critical tipping point after which it
becomes impractical to make further changes. We are then
locked into disastrous effects including major coastal
flooding and droughts.”
-- Jim Hansen, NASA’s chief climate change scientist
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
California Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change affects us
• We have limited water
• We depend on Sierra
snow for water storage
• Our population is
growing into wilderness
• California is a coastal
California Impacts
Climate change will cause
• Droughts
• Reduced Sierra snow pack
• Wildfires
• Sea level rise
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
The Path to Climate Stabilization
“Business as Usual”
Gigatons of carbon emissions
Electricity end-use
Building, business
Passenger vehicle
Other transport
Carbon emission
capture & storage
Embracing Change
After Pascala & Socolow
The power of individual action
Can one person make a difference?
A stable climate
Change how people
Consume and creates a
demand for new
Change how People
Vote and creates
Support for Policy
Change how People
think about the
Change how People act
towards the environment
Behavior Change
Individuals Make a Difference
 The U.S. generates 25% of the world’s carbon emissions
 50% of U.S. emissions are directly caused by individuals
 Our buying decisions indirectly affect the other 50%
 You can reduce your carbon output by changing:
 Your car and airplane travel
 What you eat
 How much electricity and gas you use
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
How do we compare?
 A U.S. household produces 55,000 pounds of CO2
in a year
 A German household: 27,000 pounds
 A Swedish household: 15,000 pounds
 We can do better
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
US Energy Consumption by Sector
Source: Energy Information Administration
The Opportunity
Our actions make a difference
 Our homes are a big source of wasted energy
 People are learning: saving energy means saving
money AND curbing climate change.
 We can help people make
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Effective solutions
Leveraging individual actions to create a
collective tipping point.
How do we get more people started?
What Works, What Doesn’t
Information is not enough to create
behavior change
Effective public health & conservation programs
leverage individual actions to create a tipping point
that changes behavior of many people.
Think about
-- Changes in smoking habits
-- The growth of recycling
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Making it “Cool” to Change
 Specific, easy steps -- Suggest very specific things to do.
 Measurable results -- Demonstrate specific savings in
money,energy and CO2 reductions.
 Written pledge -- Strengthens commitment to new behavior.
 Visible prompts -- Reminders for new behaviors.
 Incentives -- Public recognition may foster completion of goals.
 Peer support -- Behavior change is more likely when peers make
a shift together.
 Bandwagon effect -- Change social norms through visible signs
of participation. This encourages others to join in the effort.
Proven Strategy #1: Specific Steps
 Give people
specific tasks to do
-- install energy efficiency devices
 And specific habits
to build
-- identify new conservation habits
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #2: Count it Up
 Measurable results
 Start with a baseline measurement of current
energy use.
 Make a record of savings -- by individuals and of
your group as a whole.
 Focus on high-impact
changes for even better
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #3: Commitment
 Written Pledge
 Strengthens commitment to new behavior
 Palo Alto’s free bag for a signed pledge
 How can you incorporate
a signature into your
program ?
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #4: Make it visible
 Use prompts as reminders for new
 “Shut off your engine -- Children breathing here”
 Harness the power of the
 Show how it all adds up -think of a barn-raising!
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #5: Incentives
 Saving money is one incentive
 But the amounts may be small
 Example: Carpool lanes
and hybrid stickers
 Public recognition may
be another perk.
 Be careful not to shame those who don’t
participate or follow through
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #6: Peer Support
 Tap the power of social support groups
 Think of Weight Watchers, AA,Team-in-Training,
 Why they work
 Support network for trying new things
 Accountability to others
 Fun and community
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Proven Strategy #7: Social Norms
 Change social norms
 In times of uncertainty, people look around at
others for what to do
 Classic experiment in Times Square
 Visible signs of participation encourage
others to act
Recycling bins out on Tuesday morning
Brown lawns during a drought
Use your own mug
Green gifts for your hostess
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Acterra’s CO2 reduction
[email protected] -- for volunteers & residents
ACTerraGREEN -- for organized groups
How [email protected] Works
 Education AND action -- using proven social
marketing strategies
 Face-to-face info sharing is most effective method
 Leverages volunteer power to offer free service
 Volunteers
 Help residents install simple energy-saving devices
 Work with residents to create a customized energy
saving plan
 Become advocates for behavior changes
 Builds community through neighbor-to-neighbor
 Creates bandwagon effect with lawn signs
HouseCall Upgrades
Additional HouseCall Actions
 Review utility bill
 Energy Audit: Measure energy usage throughout
house and identify opportunities for savings
 Suggest additional upgrades or conservation
 Discuss resources and handouts with resident
 Complete customized energy saving plan
 Ask resident for signed commitment to next steps
[email protected]: 2008-09
Current Locations:
Menlo Park
Palo Alto
Redwood City
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
The ACTerraGREEN Campaign
What is ACTerraGREEN?
A group program to help everyone save energy
For people who want to make changes,
but don’t know where to start
A simple, effective campaign
Lasts 4 to 6 months
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
How Does ACTerraGREEN Work?
 Your Green Team plans a launch event
 Monthly “challenges” & surveys engage
 Website & E-mail group offer detailed action
steps, suggestions, and feedback
 Survey results & outreach activities keep
participants connected
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
The Invitation and Pledge
Launching an ACTerraGREEN Campaign requires:
 A Green Team
 An invitation describing the
campaign and encouraging
everyone to sign up
 A pledge event to show
how many people are
committed to participate
Peninsula School families added
rocks to this jar, showing how
many pledged to participate
Website & E-mail Group
A customized website describes
monthly challenges and other
A community e-mail group
to share results, ideas and
About Monthly Challenges
• One-time actions, such as swapping all your
incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents.
• Repeated actions that become habits over time,
such as using personal water bottles instead of buying
bottled water.
Monthly Challenges
ACTerraGREEN provides written info each
month on topics like:
 Winter heat
 Things you plug in
 Your consumer footprint
 Holidays
 Transportation
 Water
Monthly Surveys & Results
Surveys are
• Conducted on-line*
• Once a month
• Take just a minute
• Anonymous
• Totaled up to produce
graph of community results
(at right)
* Non-computer users may request paper copies
ACTerraGREEN Outreach Activities
Ideas some communities have used:
 Hand out free CFLs
 Cookie baking demonstration: toaster vs.
conventional oven
 “Don’t Idle” driveway education
 Screen “An Inconvenient Truth” or “Hoot”
 Host a “Green Tea” to socialize and share ideas
 Organize a carpool initiative
 Provide a Home Greening Kit: Kill-a-Watt meters,
indoor/outdoor thermometers, caulking guns, etc.
 Speakers to discuss specific environmental topics
Benefits to Your Community Group
 Brings people together around the common
goal to fight climate change.
Gives your staff an opportunity to engage in
social change on a first-hand basis.
 Allows you to serve as a model for other
communities interested in “going green.”
Some Successes So Far
Peninsula School:
• 75% of families participated (about 162 families)
• Participants took over 1500 actions to reduce home
energy use
Las Lomitas & La Entrada Schools:
• 265 families
• Over 2500 actions to reduce their home energy use
• Actions in first four months saved 120.6 tons of CO2
– equivalent to planting 9,647 trees or taking 22.1 cars
off the road.
Now providing campaigns at:
• Six churches & synagogues in Silicon Valley
• Genencor, Palo Alto
• Skoll Foundation, Palo Alto
-- and more!
Get Involved: ACTerraGREEN
To start an ACTerraGREEN campaign,
Contact Ellen Wilkinson at Acterra:
[email protected]
(650) 962-9876, ext. 353
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
“Be the change”
you want to see”
in the world.”
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Action: Lightbulbs
 Replace a 100W incandescent bulb with a
26W compact fluorescent bulb of the same
 Save $68 over the life of the bulb
 Prevent release of 490 pounds of CO2
 Equivalent to not burning 25 gallons
of gas in your car
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Turn Down Your Thermostat
 Change the heater
temperature to 68°
when people are home
and 55°- 58° when house
is empty.
 For cooling, set it to 75°- 78° when people
are home and OFF when people are away.
 You’ll save 1,400 lbs of CO2 /year.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Turn Down Water Heater
 Change the heater
temperature to 120°
 You’ll save 150 lbs
of CO2 /year.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: “Solar” Clothes Dryer
 Set up a clothesline save 260 Lbs of CO2
per load.
 You may save over
3,120 lbs CO2 /year.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Eat Less Meat
 Livestock sector responsible for 18% of all
greenhouse gas emissions, a higher share than
 Switch from a meat-eating to a plant-based diet,
save 1.5 tons of CO2 a year — that’s 50% more than
the 1 ton you would save by replacing your regular
sedan with a Prius!
Skip meat one day a week,
and prevent up to 428 lbs.
of greenhouse gases annually.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Tune Up Your Car
 Burning a gallon of gasoline generates 20
lbs CO2
 A tuned-up engine can improve fuel
efficiency by 30%.
 Properly inflated car tires can save 3-5%
more gasoline, too.
 Make an appointment for a tune-up.
 Learn to check your tire pressure regularly.
 You’ll save 1,500 lbs of CO2 /year !
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Drive Less
 You may save over 2,000 lbs CO2 /year.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Reduce Water Usage
20% of the energy used in California goes to
pump, heat or treat water.
 Install a low-flush toilet.
Rebates may be available.
 Call Santa Clara Valley
Water District for a FREE
“water wise” check up.
-- SCVWD also offers rebates for water saving
irrigation systems.
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth
Action: Use Fewer Chemicals
Household chemicals
-- Pollute water & poison wildlife
-- May be affecting human health
Concerned about your products?
visit Environmental Working Group for a list of products &
-- Cosmetic safety database
-- Guide to pesticides in produce
Acterra Action for a Sustainable Earth