How do you get commuters excited about energy efficiency? Rally them into a competition that is both fun and financially rewarding.
As commuter traffic grows, Vermont faces challenges when it comes to road congestion, increased infrastructure expenses, intensified carbon emissions, and overall cost.
Beginning as a small local initiative based in Vermont’s most populous county, the Way to Go! Challenge encourages commuters to change their commuting habits by finding alternatives to the single-occupancy vehicle. By signing up for the Way to Go! Challenge, commuters make a public commitment to use less gasoline and reduce carbon emissions (while having fun!) for one week.
By 2009, the local initiative had strong participation, but the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) needed help in order to grow the program.
VEIC partnered with VTrans in 2009 to further develop Way to Go. Through a reinvigorated marketing campaign, development of challenge options, and a website redesign that featured tools and easier access for businesses, schools, and communities, VEIC increased both participation and engagement. Data collected since VEIC’s involvement shows a significant decrease in miles traveled and carbon emissions during the annual week-long challenge.
According to Ross MacDonald, Go Vermont program manager and public transit coordinator for VTrans, VEIC’s success with the program is a result of their unique approach to the serious topic of energy conservation.
"The overall marketing approach, the use of prizes, and the whole aesthetic of Way to Go! is one of inclusion, fun, and competition," says Ross. "I've seen some different programs that have a more serious message like: 'help save the environment,' or 'why aren’t you doing more?' VEIC has a light touch with a fun message."
- Participation grew by 1,768 commuters between 2010 and 2013.
- Over 90% of participants said they would likely participate in future challenges.
- Vermonters saved 13,580 gallons of gasoline (the equivalent of $48,500) and avoided 266,100 pounds of carbon emissions in 2013.