How It Works

The 10% Challenge is a spirited, community-based campaign to cut fossil fuel use 10%, getting the rest of your energy from the cleanest possible sources, and to involve 10% of the community as leaders and models. The Challenge is a "turbocharge" for community energy-saving and greening activities. It fits with, and supports, the New York Climate Smart Communities Pledge, and the energy programs of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The Challenge provides motivation and an ongoing news story to engage communities.

To achieve an overall footprint reduction of 10% in a community, two kinds of efforts will be needed:

  • individual change by households, businesses and institutions - upgrading lights and appliances, insulating buildings, more telework to reduce driving
  • community-scale projects to help everyone reduce their footprints, such as developing bike infrastructure or creating solar buying clubs

Among the initial campaigns, Red Hook, with a population just over 10,000, secured 10% commitments from an estimated 5% of households (200 households) in the first 5 months of its efforts and has reached 300. The town and its two incorporated villages, the school system, and the library all made formal pledges and are at work on their action plans. Almost 10% of the Chamber of Commerce's membership has had energy audits, and most implemented some upgrades as a result. In Year One, the community cut electricity use 3% across the sectors - government, business and households alike.

The Town of Warwick and its three villages joined early, and deployed a science teacher as full-time outreach professional. The Villages of Walden and Montgomery are gearing up. Around the region, participation is being actively explored by elected officials, legislators, and environmental commissions. Now the villages of Walden, Montgomery, and Maybrook, and the towns of Waterviet and Wappingers Falls, have all stepped up. Any government or association can adopt a 10% Challenge resolution and be eligible for rewards and support from Sustainable Hudson Valley.

Sample timeline for a 10-month campaign (flexible, of course):

Months 1 - 2:

  • form leadership team and outreach network
  • establish benchmarks, measurement and verification system
  • develop strategy and campaign milestones
  • raise funding
  • line up rewards for winning performance
  • design launch event

Months 3 - 4

  • general community outreach and education (canvass, media)
  • Energy Plan commitments
  • action - low hanging fruit e.g. weatherization, lighting changeouts, appliance swap, natural cooling, biking and public transportation commitments;
  • participation - contest, rally, etc.
  • design special campaigns for the rest of the year

Months 5 - 6

  • Special campaign: e.g. transportation

Months 7 - 8

  • Special campaign: e.g. water-efficiency

Months 9 - 10

  • Evaluate progress toward goals and assess community benefits
  • Report publicly on the campaign
  • Celebration, awards event, media, etc.