Emma Treadgold, Sustainability Engagement Coordinator
Marnie Kikken, Strategic Projects Leader
Peter Vun, Senior Sustainability Officer
Ku-ring-gai Council is dedicated to delivering best-in-class environmental initiatives — to reach Net Zero by 2040. Engaging an entire community to solve a global problem. Through citizen co-design and prototyping, we re-framed sustainability from a necessary sacrifice to an individual benefit — inspiring residents to engage with the environment & other council-led initiatives.
The challenge Ku-ring-gai Council faced was to drive environmental action and awareness in the community. Ku-ring-gai offers many environmental initiatives — from fostering native bee-hives to sustainability rebates. But the community wasn't engaging. While people cared about the environment, they weren’t aware many of the initiatives existed, they didn’t believe it was possible for them to make an impact. The brief was to define how Council can better support local residents who are currently not engaged in environmental action. Providing a pathway for them to engage with their programs and activities — and ultimately start delivering on the community’s Net Zero targets.
Over two weeks, we engaged the community to define an engagement strategy and digital concept for the council’s environmental programs. The founding assumption was ‘awareness is the barrier’. Testing revealed: Climate action is ‘not urgent, too hard, and not my responsibility'. Rather than convincing people to act for climate — we reframed environmental programs to describe individual benefits for residents. From ‘solar rebates’ to ‘reducing bills’. From ‘volunteer bush regeneration’ to ‘an outdoor activity for families’. Strategy alone can’t solve problems — so we designed a new digital experience. Making it easy for residents to find programs, and inspire them to act.
Our resident-first strategy created real change for the community. For residents. Communicating the value of each program made them relevant and easy to access — allowing residents to see the individual benefit from Ku-ring-gai’s initiatives — and save the planet in the process. For the Council. Residents being able to find and access initiatives ensured that funding invested in environmental initiatives was well-spent. Putting Net Zero and broader environmental goals within reach. For the environment. Residents who engage once — no matter how small — become more environmentally aware, and likely to engage further. Inspiring average citizens to become advocates. Reducing emissions. Driving change.
To deliver the strategy, we prototyped a digital experience that gave residents; A single spot for programs. We consolidated all council environmental initiatives into a single location. Making them easy for residents to browse and discover. “I would look at the bushwalk, the bushfire ready check... I mean I’d ignore something that wouldn’t be of any benefit to me, like the solar panels” — Resident Simple, relevant search. We made all programs browsable by interest, effort, and lifestyle — with tags like ‘for renters’ or ‘do at home’. Filters and featured activities helped residents find what’s right for them and not lose interest navigating irrelevant information. “I like the [tags] to show you what you can do in nature or with kids. I have a young family so that one is for me.” — Resident Propositions for every program. We gave each program a resident-led proposition — so people could easily see how they would benefit. Clear benefits, calls-to-action, and human stories allowed residents to see the value in a program, even if they weren't interested in the environment. “I don’t know a lot of people in my suburb, I’d be doing it to meet other people... A free lunch is nice too.” — Resident