Based on a campaign run in Belgium in 2003, Europe’s Energy Neighborhoods was a program designed to allow neighborhoods to ‘bet’ with their municipalities that they could reduce energy use by at least 9% over the course of four months without making any investments in new technology. The first iteration of the program, “Energy Neighborhoods” ran from 2007 to 2010 with 11 partners from nine different countries. Teams of friends, colleagues, and neighbors gathered into energy neighborhoods, competed collectively to lower their energy consumption through regular events and challenges, receiving assistance from specially trained volunteers called “Energy Masters” who supervised monitoring, provided feedback, and shared program resources such as energy neighborhood handbooks, DIY home energy checklists, and energy saving tips. An online tool also provided participants with a way to connect with one another, monitor and track their energy use, and visualize savings. The second iteration of the program, “Energy Neighborhoods 2”, ran from 2011 to 2013 and engaged 16 partners from 16 European Union Member countries. Participants in this version of the program focused on practicing specific energy saving behaviors and went through four challenge cycles per monitoring period that aimed to expand knowledge around how everyday life can affect the climate. Experts provided participants with information and encouragement throughout the program, offering tailored advice at the start and mid-way points of each challenge cycle. In both iterations of the program, participants were asked to enter their own meter data into the online tool and winning teams were rewarded with certificates, prizes, and local media attention for their efforts. In addition to meter data entered into the online tool, each program partner conducted a survey with their participants before and after the energy saving campaigns to evaluate program impact. Participating neighbourhoods in the first iteration of the program (Energy Neighborhoods) achieved an average household energy saving of 10% against their energy consumption the year before the challenge, while participating neighborhoods in the second iteration (Energy Neighborhoods 2) achieved an average household energy saving of 10%, a reduction of 5,735,000 kWh and savings of nearly 2,425,18 tons of CO2 over the two campaign years.
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