UNI energy reduction project receives international distinction

Posted on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Carole Yates, program manager, Center for Energy and Environmental Education, 319-273-7599,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A University of Northern Iowa research program, "Get Energized, Iowa!," was recently designated as a "landmark" study through Tools of Change's peer review process. Tools of Change is an international organization that recognizes and promotes programs that foster sustainable communities.

The peer review panel found that Get Energized, Iowa! encouraged individuals and communities to achieve high electricity and gas savings based on actual usage, with excellent cost effectiveness. It is built on the central role of one's community in regulating personal choices and behavior.

Jack Yates, professor of psychology, and Carole Yates, program manager for UNI's Center for Energy and Environmental Education, worked with Iowa Policy Project's David Osterberg to implement the 2012 competition between four small Iowa communities to get the energy reduction results. The "landmark" designation is based on the results of this competition and a follow-up study.

The UNI team engaged local organizations and municipal utilities to help residents reduce home energy use, including getting free home weatherization audits through Green Iowa AmeriCorps. They also conducted a pre- and post-survey of participants' attitudes, knowledge and behaviors regarding home energy usage.

The UNI team returned to the communities in 2014 to conduct a follow-up survey on participants' persistence, attitudes and behavior in reducing energy use. They found that the original energy savings and behavioral changes persisted and even increased further in some cases.

Tools for Change panelists were impressed by the program's impacts, innovation, ease of replicating to other locations and adaptability to other behaviors. They also liked how it employed an existing organization in each community as the local guide team to build on existing relationships, familiarity and trust.  

Founded on the principles of community-based social marketing, Tools of Change engages program planners and facilitators from around the world to foster healthier, more sustainable choices and behaviors. According to Jay Kassirer, general manager of Tools of Change, in order to be designated as a "landmark" case study, programs must go through a stringent peer review process.

For more information, contact Jack Yates at 319-273-2051 or, or Carole Yates at 319-273-7599 or

For more information about Tools of Change, visit