Promoting Clean Energy
Once a local government has made a decision to pursue clean energy it
is important to educate and engage the community, whether the community
is in the research phase or has already begun financing your project.
Community support is critical to ensuring the success of the clean
energy project and support will help to avoid stumbling blocks.
Reaching out to residents using promotional, educational, and marketing
campaigns will help to generate interest and awareness in clean energy
and spur community support, as well as create positive media
Detailed guidance on outreach and communications can be found in ICLEI’s Outreach and Communications Guidebook. This guidebook explains how to reach your target audience, create effective messages, and design successful communications campaigns.
When promoting clean energy, local governments will want to explain exactly how clean energy will help the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide economic benefits. Take the time to give details about your clean energy program and how it will benefit people in the community. Make the message tangible and use comparisons. For example, explain how the benefits created by clean energy installations can be translated in the equivalent number of passenger cars taken off the road or the number of barrels of oil saved. The EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator is a great tool that can help you translate energy savings into understandable metrics.
Switching to clean energy can reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and mercury can improve public health and reduce smog. Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are contributors to global climate change. Conducting a greenhouse gas emissions inventory to catalog the amount of emissions that your community is producing and illustrating how clean energy can reduce emissions will exemplify the benefits of switching to clean energy (for more information on conducting an inventory, see the Energy Efficiency page.
By harnessing the sun’s energy, wind power, or other natural processes, you will be tapping into a free, unlimited supply of energy. After the initial costs of installing the new equipment, such as photovoltaic cells or a wind turbine, energy costs will actually decrease. In addition, by implementing energy efficiency measures, you are also able to reduce your energy consumption.
Clean energy provides an opportunity to grow the local economic base. From installing clean energy systems, to conducting energy audits, and the maintenance and repair of clean energy infrastructure, clean energy provides an array of skilled and unskilled job opportunities. Most of these jobs are often given to local residents meaning that the dollars spent on clean energy often stay in the local economy. For more information on the economic benefits of clean energy, see the Green Economy / Green Jobs page.
Adapted from the Bronx River Watershed Coalition, here are some outreach strategies to raise public awareness, knowledge and stimulate behavior change:
|Method||Most Effective Use
|Clean Energy Committee||Share information, discuss strategies, plan actions, and evaluate programs||Public awareness, knowledge, understanding, desire/ability to act|
|Newsletters or Newspaper Articles||
Announce committee meeting times and dates, update information, list issues to be discussed at upcoming meetings. Provide additional detail about local stories, photos of citizen activities, feature articles provide information about problems and solutions
|Public awareness, knowledge|
|Demonstration Sites||Exhibit innovative technology, and should be accompanied by signs, brochures or on-site interpretive staff||Public awareness, knowledge, understanding|
|Printed and Taped Material (e.g., fact sheets, videos)||Explain new technology, describe case studies, provide training information for new employees, outline facts to stakeholders||Public awareness, knowledge, understanding|
|Training and Technical Assistance||Identify problems, recommend solutions, assist with installation of clean energy, educate individuals, evaluate effectiveness of solutions to interested businesses and homeowners||Understanding, desire/ability to act, action|
Source: Bronx River Watershed Coalition
- Essex, CT Citizens for Clean Energy: Essex Citizens for Clean Energy is a group of residents who are concerned about global warming and its impact. They are focused on community involvement, education, outreach, public policy, and energy technology. They have helped to increase enrollment in CT Clean Energy Options by 25%, have designed a clean energy exhibit on display at a local museum, and offer workshops and other training materials in support of clean energy.
- Hull, MA: Hull has installed two wind turbines that generate a total of 10% of the Town’s total energy demand. Planning is now underway for the installation of four offshore turbines. Run by the Citizens for Alternative Renewable Energy, the HullWind website helps to educate residents about wind power by providing links, resources, and media coverage. The website notes that involving the public and sharing information have made the wind turbines a success.
- Medford, MA Clean Energy Committee: Created by Mayor McGlynn in 2004, this group of citizens promotes clean power options and supports the development of renewable energy. The Committee’s website gives background information on clean energy types, outlines the benefits of clean energy, and explains what residents can do in their own homes to help advance Medford’s clean energy efforts. In January 2009, Medford unveiled a new 100kW wind turbine at McGlynn Middle School, which provides 10% of the power needs for the school. Medford has also installed solar panels and has encouraged over 300 residents to purchase renewable energy through GreenUp.
- EPA Clean Energy Outreach Tools: These tools include fact sheets, sample presentations and a communications kit designed to provide guidance on communicating the benefits of and opportunities for energy efficiency.