The project was funded by the Without Walls Partnership Local Area Agreement (LAA) Delivery Fund on behalf of the York Environment Partnership (an environmentally focused partnership within the Without Walls Partnership). The general aim of the Challenge was to achieve a measurable reduction in household carbon emissions, raise public awareness of low carbon lifestyles and foster community cohesion.

The Initiative consisted of three phases. Phase I produced a detailed understanding of per person CO2 emissions by neighbourhood (output area or ward) in York. Phase II identified selected neighbourhoods which had the potential for the greatest carbon reduction. Each selected neighbourhood was encouraged to form a team. Phase III provided an evaluation of the initiative. This involved undertaking a follow-up survey to see if the initiative led to a measurable reduction in CO2e emissions.

The project identified those neighbourhoods that held pro-environmental attitudes but had a high carbon footprint as being more likely to engage in pro-environmental actions. For each neighbourhood, data were collected on local infrastructure that could support pro-environmental behavioural change. These include proximity to local services, potential of housing stock for energy conservation measures and access to transport links.

Participants were recruited on the doorstep from the selected neighbourhoods in November-December 2009. Approximately 500 households were targeted in the two areas and residents were then invited to a neighbourhood workshop where their carbon footprint was calculated based on their completed questionnaire survey.

All residents who had completed and returned their questionnaire survey were invited to a local team meeting where they received an assessment of their carbon footprint and a chance to meet fellow participants. The personalised carbon footprint showed their total carbon footprint, where they were in relation to other members of the team and highlighted actions they could take to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in their CO2e emissions.

In addition, participants were asked to pledge to do a number of pro-environmental actions over a six month intervention period to help reduce their household carbon emissions. As well as door-step recruitment, participants were also recruited from existing communities including two primary schools and one church. These formed the six teams who took part in the challenge.

Each team had a mentor who, with the assistance of expert speakers, provided information and practical advice on green actions in areas such as energy, transport, recycling and composting. The teams met on a monthly basis. Some teams held a range of awareness raising activities in their local area such as a Recycled Scarecrow Trail and a World Environment Day stall.

Overall, the Green Neighbourhood Challenge was effective in reducing the carbon footprint of the participants and achieved an estimated total emission reduction of 98 tonnes of CO2e/year.

Full details about the methodology and results from the project are available in the downloadable report.