Letter of Intent
Project Size: 
Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
Letter of Intent: 

Project Summary:
This project will reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable behavior change at the University of Washington through community-based social marketing (CBSM) in support of Zimride, an online ridesharing system. The project is being developed and carried out by a team of graduate students through the Program on the Environment’s Environmental Management Certificate. The outcomes of the project will provide valuable information for ongoing implementation of the rideshare program, as well as insight into applying CBSM to achieve additional forms of sustainable behavior change within the UW community.

Define the campus environmental problem that you are attempting to solve:
In 2007, the UW became a founding signatory to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, pledging to work toward carbon neutrality and sustainability. This led to publishing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2009, outlining the broad goals and three strategies to achieve these commitments, including adopting better technology, purchasing carbon offsets, and changing behavior. The University has already implemented a variety of CAP recommendations, but further action is needed to achieve carbon neutrality and sustainability goals.

The UW CAP identifies transportation as the area with the greatest potential for reducing carbon emissions through behavior change. In particular, commuting contributes the equivalent of over 50,000 million grams of CO2 each year. Single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting is responsible for a large share of commuting emissions. Among the UW-Seattle campus community alone, 21% of all community members (11,480) commute by SOV; this breaks down to 34% of staff (4,632), 47% of faculty (2,625) and 12% of students (4,223). At UW-Tacoma and UW-Bothell, the proportion of SOV commute trips is much higher, with 59% and 67% of those campus communities traveling by SOV, respectively.

For many years, the University has made progress reducing the number of SOV commute trips at all campuses, in large part by promoting the use of public transit. However, system capacity and budget realities constrain the transit system’s potential as an alternative for all SOV commute trips. In order to make further progress, additional options for commuters are vitally needed.

Describe your proposed solution to the problem:
With only 4%-12% of all UW commuters currently utilizing ridesharing, there is considerable room for the University to encourage and expand this commute alternative. This project will launch Zimride, a new ridesharing program, on behalf of the Office of Transportation Services and will use community-based social marketing (CBSM) to promote the use of Zimride to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable behavior change at the University of Washington. Zimride is a ridesharing system that helps organizations establish easy to use, private, social networks for ridesharing. It has been used by over 40 academic institutions, including a recent introduction at the UW Bothell campus. With an online platform that is integrated with social media, Zimride has the potential to greatly increase the number of students, faculty, and staff using ridesharing as a commuting option.

The goals of our project are:
1) Use CBSM to reduce SOV trips by influencing staff, students and faculty to participate in the Zimride rideshare program, and,
2) Provide valuable information for ongoing implementation of the rideshare program, as well as insight into applying CBSM to achieve additional forms of sustainable behavior change within the UW community.

We can achieve these goals by accomplishing the following objectives:
 Identify barriers to and benefits of ridesharing among the target population;
 Design and implement an innovative CBSM approach based on best practices that uses the convenience of an online interface and the normative power of social networks to foster sustainable behavior;
 Increase Zimride participation (i.e. signing up, actively seeking/offering rides, and successfully ridesharing) among the target population;
 Evaluate the effectiveness of CBSM and compare impacts across segments of the target population.

What form and amount of student leadership will your project involve?:
This project is being developed and carried out by a team of seven graduate students from the Evans School of Public Affairs through the Program on the Environment’s Environmental Management Certificate. The team is leading the design and implementation of all aspects of this project, from conducting focus groups with representatives of the target populations to inform social marketing campaign design, to working with Zimride to customize the user interface for the UW community.

What type and amount of outreach and education will your project involve?:
This project uses community-based social marketing (CBSM) to promote sustainable behavior. The rationale for CBSM lies within a critical analysis of alternative strategies for influencing behavior. Existing research reveals:
 Information, education, and awareness strategies alone are proven to be ineffective at leading to behavior change related to sustainability. Lack of information, in other words, is not the primary barrier to behavior change, and, conversely, providing more information is not the solution.
 Economic and self-interest strategies are also not always effective in changing behavior. In other words, and as we know from economics, people don’t always behave rationally.

In contrast, CBSM has been shown to be effective at bringing about behavior change for sustainability. The common “toolbox” of CBSM includes: getting participants to commit to change their behavior; developing prompts and appealing to community norms to sustain behavior change; implementing targeted, evidence-based communication strategies; and providing carefully constructed incentives.

This project will use information gathered through focus groups and surveys to develop a CBSM strategy. We anticipate preparing multiple tools, which we will implement across different segments of the target population. Because CBSM is inherently about social connections, we believe that engaging representatives from various communities within the target population will be integral for successful CBSM implementation. We will develop this approach more fully in the coming weeks.

What amount of funds do you anticipate your project will require from the CSF?:
Because we plan on developing our specific CBSM strategy in response to our findings from the focus groups, it is difficult to estimate how much our chosen CBSM approaches will cost. Given the uncertainty, however, we anticipate that project costs for any possible approaches will be less than $2,500. The bulk of this funding would go toward specific CBSM expenses, such as the use of publicity materials (posters, pins, car decals) to prompt and remind people to use Zimride, or for financial incentives and rewards. Purchasing the materials to market-test various CBSM approaches will help us identify the most effective approaches, reducing the costs of taking CBSM strategies to scale in future projects to effect lasting behavior change for sustainability at the University of Washington.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Chris Hoffer
Full Proposal

This will display after the CSF committee has reviewed and approved your LOI, and after you have received the link to edit your application.

Executive Summary: 

Project: Zimtervention will establish Zimride, an online ridesharing system, as a viable option to single-occupancy vehicle(SOV) trips to and from the UW campus. This will achieve goals of reducing campus-related carbon emissions and promoting sustainable behavior change.

The principle component of the project is to fund a new student position, Campus Rideshare Coordinator (CRC) to:
1) establish a critical mass of UW Zimride users; and
2) integrate UW Zimride into institutions and campus life

The CRC will work with Commuter Services during Spring 2011 and the 2011-2012 academic year, part-time at 10 hrs/week. This will fall under an undergraduate Student Assistant job classification, with hourly wages of $13 and ineligible for additional benefits.

This is the second phase of a graduate student project through the Program on the Environment’s Environmental Management Certificate (EMC). To date, UW Zimride has been introduced on campus with one of the most successful launches in program history, and the EMC students have begun implementation of a strategy for changing SOV behavior,relying on evidence-based principles of community-based social marketing and theories of sustainable behavior change.

Additional work is needed, however, to establish a critical mass of users and integrate Zimride into UW life as a trusted and well-known mode of transportation. As such, the role of the CRC will be to continue to implement and expand upon the community-based social marketing campaign. The CRC will also work to create institutional legacies, such as including Zimride into new student and staff orientation, promoting it for travel during academic breaks, and incorporating it into other Commuter Service programs. In short, the CRC will work to integrate UW Zimride into campus life.

Total amount requested from the CSF: 
$8 520
This funding request is a: 
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Publicity & Communication
Promotional items (car decal, eg)$200/qtr4 qtr $800
Posters/print materials$150/qtr4 qtr $600
Incentives$100/qtr4 qtr $400
Advertising$200/qtr4 qtr $800
Personnel & Wages
Non-CSF Sources: 
Source/Description Amount RequestedDate Requested Date Received/Announced
Ongoing Zimride support and contracted services$7500 1/2011 Contract arranged by Commuter Services
Advertising support from Commuter Services $12001/2011 Approved for CRC use for 2011-2012
Sustainability Impact: 
Sustainability Challenge: 
This project addresses sustainable transportation for the UW campus community. According to the Climate Action Plan, commuting contributes the equivalent of over 50,000 million grams of CO2 each year. Single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting, in particular, is responsible for a large share of commuting emissions. Among the UW-Seattle campus 
community alone, 21% of all community members (11,480) commute by SOV. 
For many years, the University has made progress reducing the number of SOV commute trips, in large part by promoting U-PASS and the use of public transit. However, system capacity and budget realities constrain the transit system’s potential as an alternative for all SOV commute trips. In order to make further progress, additional options for 
commuters are needed, particularly those for whom other options (such as transit, walking, and biking) are not currently considered viable. 
Because Zimride is a community-based, social network for ridesharing, expanding the UW Zimride network benefits all member of the UW campus community. This includes students, faculty, and staff, whether interested in commuting to campus or traveling to attend academic conferences, to visit family and friends, or to make other trips out of town. 
Zimride also strengthens social bonds among students, faculty, and staff by promoting a community-based form of transportation. 
As Zimride members post ride matches and requests on Facebook, this makes the UW’s commitment to sustainable transportation more visible both within and beyond the UW community. Additionally, a comprehensive Zimride network ensures better access to campus by reducing congestion, making the university more accessible, and maximizing the best 
use of limited parking spaces. 
Explain how the impacts will be measured: 

Our project will have quantifiable, commuting behavior impacts from Commuter Services and Zimride.

From Commuter Services data, we will be able to measure and observe trends related to:
 Number of carpool permits
 Number of daily carpool parking transactions
 Number of SOV parking permits 

From Zimride administrative tools, the following outcomes can be estimated:
 Miles Saved
 Gallons of Gas Saved
 Pounds of CO2 Emissions Saved
 Grams of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Emissions Saved
 Pounds of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Particulate Matter (PM) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emission

These impacts will be measured through Zimride administrative tools, which automatically calculate estimated environmental outcomes. Data collection by Commuter Services, as well as a survey at the end of the project, will measure behavior change and awareness/outreach goals. The impact of Zimride will also be captured in the campus-wide
transportation survey (next scheduled for fall 2012).

In addition to CSF, this information will be reported to Commuter Services.

Education & Outreach: 

Education and outreach are primary goals, as described in the executive summary, as they relate to raising awareness of UW Zimride and influencing student behavior. This will be based on the marketing strategy developed during the current phases of Project: Zimtervention, described below, which simultaneously markets UW Zimride and provides project
publicity. By the end of winter quarter 2011, this strategy will be updated to reflect lessons learned and new approaches identified.

Marketing Strategy

Determining the barriers and benefits for engaging in a particular behavior is an important step in crafting the particular tactics for a marketing, awareness, and outreach strategy. Zimride has already identified two key barriers to ridesharing: inconvenience, both in terms of finding and scheduling rides; and trust, including personal safety and reliability. As a ridesharing service, Zimride addresses these by providing: an intuitive, easy to use interface that is designed to encourage usage; user ratings and reviews; an exclusive campus-only network; and connections to social media.

This makes promotional and awareness campaigns important, as our focus groups suggest that if potential users are unaware of how Zimride is different from other ridesharing services, they will not be interested. Additionally, because of the unique nature of ridesharing, achieving a critical mass of users is essential for successful behavior change. However, a promotional strategy alone will not lead to behavior change. As such, community-based social marketing and theories of social influence must be incorporated into the promotion of Zimride, and additional tactics employed. We have developed multiple campaigns to influence commuting behavior: 

EMAIL CAMPAIGN. Zimride has provided sample emails based on successful campaigns at previous universities, which we have modified for different audiences (such as students and staff/faculty) as well as rideshare barriers and benefits. For example, email messages to club sports groups emphasize the social and convenience benefits of Zimriding, while
messages to parking permit holders emphasize the potential for savings on gas and parking. Campus-wide email is particularly effective in marketing the program, as well as providing project outreach and education.

TABLING & EVENTS CAMPAIGN. Building off of a community-based online campaign, an in-person campaign is also a fundamental component of success in influencing behavior. This will involve tabling at events and locations, with signing people up to Zimride using a laptop. It will also involve a raffle incentive (such as a gas gift card) and promotional
materials (post cards, car decals, etc.). Targeted locations include E1 parking (and other lots, as appropriate), Red Square, and at major sporting or other events.

ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN. Additional promotions include onsite, media, and event advertising, as well as the potential cfor online advertising. Posters, and other materials are less important for promotion than virtual efforts, but they do serve as prompts to remind people about ridesharing and provide outreach and education about sustainable
transportation. Posters in parking garages, for example, may serve as daily prompts for people to consider ridesharing. News media can also be successful in raising general awareness and, if frequent enough, provide behavioral prompts and appeal to social norms.

TESTIMONIAL CAMPAIGN. We recommend the CRC to develop a video and testimonial campaign. This provides outreach about Zimride and the UW’s commitment to sustainability, while helping to change social norms on campus. Zimride has found such testimonial campaigns to be effective in encouraging use. This can also be used for outreach and
educational aspects related to Project: Zimtervention itself.

Student Involvement: 

Although working closely with Commuter Services, the CRC is a largely independent and entrepreneurial student position. The CRC is expected to work with and recruit other students as necessary to complete tasks, including active Zimride users. Their work will include a focus on the entire student body, with particular emphasis on students who regularly commute by car, as well as faculty and staff.

The position is envisioned as one that empowers the CRC to learn about the principles of sustainability and implementing behavior change, while developing skills and expertise related to project management, collaboration, outreach, and communications. Their work, as it relates to community-based social marketing, is informed directly from the student-led EMC Team project.

TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Prepare position description, post, and interview candidates 3 wks, Winter Qtr 2011End of Winter Qtr 2011
Finalize marketing strategy and recommended work plan 3 wks, Winter Qtr 2011End of Winter Qtr 2011
Project start date (March 28) & first installment: CRC begins Spring Qtr 2011 Beginning Spring Qtr 2011
CRC prepares new student orientation campaign for launch Autumn quarterSpring Qtr 2011 End of Spring Qtr 2011
Video/testimonial campaignAutumn Qtr 2011 End of Autumn Qtr 2011
Thanksgiving/Winter break campaign2 wks, Autumn Qtr 2011 End of Autumn Qtr 2011
Spring break campaign2 wks, Winter Qtr 2012 End of Winter Qtr 2012
Zimride survey, focus groups1 wk, Spring Qtr 2012 Mid-Spring Qtr 2012
Final report, target date for completion, and funds spent (June 8) Spring Qr 2012 End of Spring Qtr 2012
Amount Awarded: 
Project status: