Smart Energy Now®

Smart Energy Now®

Smart Energy Now®, Uptown Charlotte, NC (2010 to 2013) – Duke Energy

Empower Efficiency, along with Earth Markets and HR&A collaborated with Duke Energy on this first-of-its-kind community behavior change efficiency program. The Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) program was designed to encourage commercial building owners, tenants, facilities staff, and occupants in Uptown Charlotte to adopt energy-saving behaviors and technologies in their buildings. Empower Efficiency provided leadership for CBSM program design, commercial market analysis, advisory group facilitation, community engagement strategy and implementation approaches for office workers, behavioral and social norm campaigns and messaging, metrics and management reporting development, and interactive kiosk interface design. 

Smart Energy Now® used CBSM to change energy-use behaviors and encourage adoption of efficient technology upgrades in office buildings. The behavioral program team trained Energy Champions who led campaigns in their workplaces. They were taught to highlight social norms in their messaging and to implement Empower Efficiency-designed games that used prompts and incentives to generate interest and encourage participation. The most effective strategies and campaigns were shared among other participating companies and buildings, making social diffusion an important element of the program. 

The success of this program was eventually expanded into Envision Charlotte, with additional initiatives that address target behaviors related to water savings, air quality, and greenhouse gas reduction.


Smart Energy Now® signed up 21.5 million square feet of office space for 77,000 employees in the city. The program reduced electricity consumption by 6.4% in 18 months, based on two behaviors: turning out unnecessary lights and powering down unused computers. The latest results shows participants climbing up the behavior ladder, saving  20% of electricity over the baseline across uptown Charlotte. The program achieved the following within Empower Efficiency’s contract period:

  • 1,500+ participants signed up to our blog and newsletters
  • 600+ Energy Champions trained in uptown Charlotte
  • Widespread participation in our energy reduction behavior change campaigns, such as Adopt-a-Light, Crab You’re It, and Powering Down
  • 75+ companies signed our “Declaration of Change” 
  • Organic growth of the program through social diffusion 
  • Large inbound interest and participation from broader community, national, and international inquiries (including numerous media inquiries)