Overview of Program

Households play an essential role in the creation of more environmentally sustainable communities. Between 50 and 90 percent of a community’s natural resources are used at the household level with up to 75 percent of these resources wasted through inefficiency and lack of awareness. Households are also a major source of a community’s environmental pollution through auto emissions and toxic chemicals entering the groundwater. In most communities, the financial burden of this inefficiency and environmental pollution falls on municipalities as the primary accountable party responsible for providing services such as water, water treatment, landfills, roads and environmental quality.

In today's fiscal climate, local governments have less money than ever before to provide these essential services to the community. Short of raising taxes or reducing services—not politically feasible in most communities—the only alternative is being more cost-effective. One of the major opportunities for cost containment is helping citizens better steward the community’s natural resources. Developing a demand-side management approach is all the more critical in communities experiencing rapid population growth.

With these incentives, municipalities are motivated to help citizens develop lifestyle practices that conserve natural resources and protect the environment. Citizens are generally willing to cooperate, but have a hard time changing ingrained habits. Traditional methods used by municipalities—information and financial incentives—while achieving awareness and some behavior change, are not adequate for helping people change lifelong habits. And they are not tapping the enormous potential for resource savings that citizens are willing and able to achieve. Municipalities need new tools to enable voluntary citizen behavior change.