Local Sustainability Innovation Through Cross-Sector Collaboration: Lessons from a Neighborhood Energy Competition





Cross-Sector Collaboration, Energy Competition, Local Government, Policy Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Communities


Although public managers and nongovernmental actors play important roles in promoting sustainable communities, little is known about how these actors collaborate with each other across sectors when it comes to sustainability innovation. This case study illustrates how a policy entrepreneur partnered with local government, businesses, and community organizations to implement an innovative neighborhood energy competition that achieved community-wide energy savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. The outcome of this case suggests that local communities can promote bottom-up sustainability innovation through cross-sector collaboration that combines grassroots efforts led by policy entrepreneurs and nongovernmental actors with technical capacity provided by the government. The outcome also suggests that financial incentives are important, albeit with caveats, for motivating citizen participation in sustainability innovation. There are, however, a number of challenges associated with sustaining such innovation over time. This case offers useful insights into collaborative governance and practical recommendations for utilizing energy competitions as a sustainability policy tool.

Author Biography

  • William L. Swann, University of Colorado-Denver

    William L. Swann is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. His research focuses on urban sustainability, collaborative governance, and public management. He received his Ph.D. in public administration from Florida State University.






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