Green Energy Ohio’s 17th Annual Tour featured solar, wind, energy efficiency, biomass and other green designs with 71 Tour sites featured in bus, guided, and open house tours, extending over two days. In addition to the traditional residential and business sites featured on the tour, a variety of other sites participated, including schools, police stations, non-profits, and other public spaces. Of the 71 sites throughout the 10 site locations, there were (14) businesses, (34) residences, and (23) other organizations.
This year, the GEO Tour took place at 10 “Tour Locations”, each with their own Local Planning Team. In striving to achieve continued success, the organization took a new approach to the Annual Green Energy Ohio Tour this year. Feedback from the 2018 Post-Tour Survey revealed that many host sites did not see a significant number of visitors. In order to make the experience beneficial for both site owners and visitors, hosts on the 2019 GEO Tour were selected, organized, and promoted by Local Planning Teams composed of volunteers and members of the GEO Board of Directors. This approach was designed to allow volunteers to become more involved in the planning process, while increasing the likelihood that all tour sites receive the traffic that they deserve.
Through the creation of the Local Team planning structure, reducing the number of sites per location, and limiting the tour to Friday and Saturday only, tour attendance and participation increased significantly compared to 2017 and 2018 tours. Bus tours in Cleveland and Wooster and a guided tour in Licking County resulted in significant participation increases.
The use of the Local Team structure also delivered several unique promotion and programming ideas. In Kent, their tour weekend was combined with the university’s Creativity Fair, leading to an increase in whole-family and adolescent tour attendance. Kent also utilized a new approach to tour passports, incentivizing attendees to visit multiple sites by giving a raffle ticket for every 4 sites visited. Raffle tickets were exchanged for a chance to win a variety of “sustainability-4 focused” gifts (reusable grocery bags, straws, water bottles, etc.) of the participant’s choosing. Kent also created a photo frame and photo-booth accessories to encourage participation in GEO’s photo contest.
Building upon growing interest in electric vehicles, Kent, Licking County, and Cleveland tour locations paired an EV car rally with their tour. Kent, Licking County, and Wooster tour locations held tour kickoffs and/or post-tour parties, fostering conversation and relationship growth. The addition of a more “social’ dimension to the tour, through contests, informational rallies, or celebratory parties, are programming approaches that we intend to encourage in future Tours.
We greatly appreciated the sponsorships of two Ohio companies – Covia and GOJO. In-kind contributions, including transportation and meeting space, were received from several local entities. A number of teams produced impressive promotional materials at their own expense, and collaboration with organizations like the Licking County Solar Cooperative and the Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network enhanced local teams’ capabilities.