After reading Stephanie Simon's WSJ article on Boulder, Colorado's struggles to execute on its greening strategies I can see how many cities might be inclined to throw in the green towel. After all, if a city like Boulder cannot easily mobilize to rally around initiatives and programs to reduce its overall carbon footprint who can? There are lessons to be learned here for all cities looking to introduce greening programs and initiatives.
1. Don't assume too much about your citizens. Don't give them too much credit (or not enough credit) for the degree to which they will adopt green technologies and practices.
2. Don't assume that being red or blue determines your city's green future. Political majorities have nothing to do with the degree to which your citizens will or won't adopt green technologies and practices. Going green is more than an environmental cause - there are intrinsic economic benefits that just make sense to capitalize upon no matter your city’s overall political slant.
3. Don't assume that one message fits all. When it comes to getting the word out on your green initiatives and programs understand that different citizens have differing levels of receptivity to various marketing and media channels. Some people will respond to TV advertising where others will have a higher likelihood to respond to direct marketing. And when marketing your green initiatives and programs it is absolutely worthwhile to be able to customize messaging to true greens and civically minded citizens because these are your allies in getting these programs off to a quick start. Identify these people in your city, message to them specifically, and ask them to take the lead, ask them to mobilize. Likewise, send a slightly different message to your non green citizens. The bottom line is that some people can be lead while others will have to be persuaded. There is value in knowing these differences on the front end of your efforts.
4. Measure results. As you roll out a program, implement ways to measure its effectiveness in soliciting citizen participation. Keep track of who responds to which programs and messages. And then analyze that valuable information so that you can use it as an input for developing and re-crafting future strategies.
For some time Buxton has been helping private sector energy companies and energy conservation strategists feed their decision making with market analytics on the front end. Based on this private sector experience Buxton has identified an immediate opportunity for the thousands of cities that are working to roll out their greening initiatives to take advantage of the proprietary data sets of household level green behaviors and attitudes that are at Buxton's disposal. Make data-driven decision making part of your city's effective greening strategy. Please reach out to us with your comments and questions - we would love to hear from you on this topic.