Our Projects

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Scaling a Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program

THE NEED

When the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) launched the $42.7 million Smart Communities Extreme Energy Makeovers (EEM) initiative with the goal of working with seven community-based project teams to provide no-cost home energy upgrades to approximately 3,400 income-qualified households in under three years, they turned to Milepost as a trusted strategic planning, communications and project management partner.

OUR APPROACH

During the planning phase, we supported TVA with internal team organization and development, community recruitment and selection, and project team engagement and onboarding. Our focus during the planning phase was to foster a collaborative environment that ensured TVA could provide adequate support to the community-based project teams as their efforts scaled while maintaining flexibility for local needs. We then helped TVA and their partners successfully navigate rigorous project guidelines and tight timelines during the implementation phase by developing streamlined work processes and templates, integrated data and reporting systems, and optimized communications across all stakeholders.  

THE RESULTS

Milepost was instrumental in helping TVA and its many partnering organizations exceed project goals. In the span of a few years, EEM completed 3,420 home energy upgrades that generated $40.95 million in direct economic impact to local communities and created approximately $500 in annual electricity bill savings for each participating household. We created user-friendly reporting templates, guides, communications frameworks and project performance scorecards to ensure TVA and its partners stayed on schedule and within budget every step of the way.

A video highlighting the incredible impacts of this project is accessible here.

 

OUR ROLE

  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Communications Support
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Training & Teambuilding
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Facilitation
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Amplifying What Makes Each Brand Unique

THE NEED

Like many brands, Office Depot Inc. annually produces a report that details their sustainability commitment and achievements to update their shareholders and suppliers, engage their associates and provide customers and prospects with details around their sustainability efforts. In 2018, Milepost was hired to help them invigorate their reporting effort and create a report that would improve engagement and readership, and help them stand out amongst other brands producing similar reports.

 

OUR APPROACH

What we found remarkable about their story is that their sustainability program is unique in that it not only strives to lower the environmental impact of their business, be a great place to work and support their local communities, but it also helps other businesses meet their own sustainability goals through Office Depot products and services. How many brands can say that? Office Depot is truly positioned to inspire change well beyond its company walls. We created the theme of “Sustainability… A way of business for us, a resource for you," and through that, created a framework for their report that illustrated Office Depot’s achievements and those of their customers for every metric. For example, Office Depot reported that 48 percent of their waste was diverted from the landfill while also highlighting its takeback programs for toner cartridges, electronic devices and batteries – programs that make it easy for customers to increase their own landfill diversion rates.

 

THE RESULTS

The finished report is a clean, colorful and easy-to-digest report that makes it clear that when a company of Office Depot’s stature makes a commitment to sustainability, the effect is measurable, meaningful and contagious. The messaging strategy, although organized in the traditional People, Planet and Profit sustainability buckets, made this report truly stand out. Finding a brand's unique message is what it takes to illustrate leadership and get the recognition each brand desires. Check it out.

 

 

OUR ROLE

  • Stakeholder Engagement

  • Data Collection & Reporting

  • Messaging & Storytelling

  • Facilitation

  • Branding & Graphic Design

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TVA Responds to Customer Feedback

THE NEED

The eScore program from TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) has been in operation for many years, with messaging to residential energy customers that has focused on rebates and savings on monthly energy bills. Through market research conducted in early 2018 in response to changing program guidelines and rebates, data showed that what customers truly wanted was the reassurance and trust of the Quality Contractor Network, access to which is offered by eScore to any residential customer signing up for a free eScore account. When TVA heard this story from their data, they repositioned their program to emphasize this benefit and improve the customer value of the eScore program.

OUR APPROACH

We redesigned the eScore marketing materials, including a website, to place a greater emphasis on access to the Quality Contractor Network and moving that messaging front and center. By promoting the feature of the eScore that customers reported they valued the most, our goal was to encourage greater participation in the program.

THE RESULTS

With the new elements of this program still rolling out, it’s too early to determine the impact of this repositioning. MPC will continue to work with TVA and iterate materials as needed, based on evaluation data.

OUR ROLE

  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Market Research
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Branding & Graphic Design
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The Backcasting Approach to Strategic Plan Development

THE NEED

Washington State's Snohomish County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. To fulfill its commitment of service to this growing community, the Public Works Department needed to develop a five-year strategic plan that could adapt within a dynamic operating environment. 

OUR APPROACH

We combined the strategy development best practices of visioning and backcasting with the planning best practices of balanced scorecard and work plan development. Integrated within these tools and techniques were periodic continuous improvement reviews performed by a certified Lean Six-Sigma expert.

The project began with a focus on updating vision and mission and identifying top business priorities for the coming five years. With these strategic markers established, a series of planning workshops were facilitated across divisional leadership teams. The workshops resulted in a collection of strategic goals in each division, aligned to the five-year vision and operating priorities.

THE RESULTS

The combination of tools and techniques used for visioning, backcasting and a balanced scorecard evaluation, combined with facilitated sessions designed to produce decisions and content in limited timeframes, supported an effective planning process that was tailored to the culture and objectives of the Department.

The Public Works Department has aligned every work group within each of its three divisions to the new five-year plan. Every team has a role, and everyone is working toward the same long-term outcomes.

The final plan has a clear strategy. Equally important, it has an underlying implementation and oversite plan that is based on detailed work plans that include activities, key objectives, performance metrics, implementation schedule and periodic reviews for the plan’s adaptation to changes in the operating environment.

OUR ROLE

  • Strategic Planning
  • Organizational Development
  • Capacity Building
  • Project Management
  • Workshop Facilitation
  • Graphic Design
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Sharing Sustainable Practices Across the Mango Industry

THE NEED

After completing two supply chain sustainability assessments for the National Mango Board (NMB) in 2010 and 2014 in countries that covered over 60% of mango imports to the US, it became clear that among the many practices for growing and packing mangos, there was a significant opportunity to increase sustainability across the industry through the sharing of environmental and social responsibility best practices. With these objectives in mind, Milepost created a set of sustainability platform that consisted of a comprehensive set of tools that could be used by producers and packers across Latin America and the Caribbean to improve operations from a sustainability and resiliency perspective.

OUR APPROACH

It was critical to the success of the project that mango producers, packers and importers felt ownership of the platform. For this reason, our first activity was to create a special committee sourced from the NMB’s board of directors to advise and provide feedback through development. From our many years working with producers, we recognized the resistance the initiative could receive due to reporting fatigue, with producers often forced to report out various levels and kinds of information to please their many buyers. To combat this, we identified and concentrated on practices that were relevant to major buyers in order to make reporting easier. Finally, we wanted to create an easy-to-use, visually-engaging, didactic guide that provided a description of best practices as well as their rationale, cost of implementation and resources for more in-depth information.

THE RESULTS

Milepost developed a full suite of tools, in English and Spanish, including a best practice reference book, training guides, webinars and evaluation protocols for the platform. In addition, we provided training for NMB personnel on how to use the tools and developed a launch plan for the initiative. The tools are available to producers and packers in most mango production countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and are currently being shared by local mango associations and their agents to engage members in sustainability.

OUR ROLE

  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Market Research
  • Data Collection & Reporting
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Facilitation
  • Team Training
  • Branding & Graphic Design

 

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Educational Tools for Commercial SEM

THE NEED

After producing a set of Industrial Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Talk Cards, a portable educational tool to help building managers, engineers, and maintenance staff gain a greater understanding of the energy efficiency opportunities in their facilities, NEEA contracted with Milepost to create a redeveloped and improved upon deck relevant to customers in the commercial sector. Because SEM has only recently gained traction in the commercial sector, where it is quickly building momentum, it was important that the Talk Cards speak to the unique and diverse needs of commercial customers.  

OUR APPROACH

Milepost began by gaining a solid understanding of NEEA’s goals for the effort through discussions with the project sponsor. After this was established, we sought insight into the target audience, the barriers that needed to be strategically addressed; and the critical components necessary to engage commercial building engineers. In an effort to maximize NEEA’s investment in developing the Talk Card collections, our team provided recommendations on which cards could be re-used from the industrial deck, new cards and sections to be developed, and improvements that could be made to the structure and design of the deck for clarity and ease of understanding. Milepost then developed a brand to help the Talk Cards stand out and look fresh and interesting, and developed a content structure to distill large amounts of information into a concise and easy-to-digest educational format.

THE RESULTS

The final deck of 154 double-sided Toolbox Talk Cards on Commercial Energy Efficiency provide key learning points and discussion topics on energy efficiency meant to engage staff and provide them with information needed to pursue energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The cards include the items that most commonly contribute to poor building performance, with bite-sized pieces of information that can be used to initiate conversation around energy efficiency practices to reduce operations and maintenance expenses and improve operational practices. The deck also includes a set of inspection checklists for building walks, and additional resources should the reader want more information on a topic. The deck is now located on the SEM Hub website, where they can be downloaded for free.

OUR ROLE

  • Market Research
  • Technical Resource Development
  • Data Collection & Content Creation
  • Branding & Graphic Design
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Make It Fun and People Will Engage with It

THE NEED

Building on a cutting edge study by the Stockholm Environment Institute that calculated King County’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory and emissions related to individual consumption choices, the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) hired Milepost to develop an engaging infographic that would summarize the story of consumption and provide specific steps for behavior change that would reduce GHG emissions.

OUR APPROACH

After identifying the project goals, the intended audience, and the critical components needed to engage the community, we worked with OSE to develop a story of consumption that would speak to the values of the intended audience. We then illustrated that story with a fun, vibrant infographic.

THE RESULTS

Milepost took a lengthy, academic report and summarized into an easy-to-understand story combined with practical behavior change techniques that engaged community members to help lower Seattle’s GHG emissions.

OUR ROLE

  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Branding & Graphic Design
  • Behavior Change
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Generating Enthusiasm for Performance Management

THE NEED

Seattle Parks and Recreation wanted to roll out a Performance Management Initiative that allowed the 1,500-person organization to gain greater visibility into their impact on the community and access data to illustrate progress to funders. Because performance management is often poorly received, leaders anticipated challenges to getting employees to not only embrace the new initiative, but feel excited about its power to inform choices and ensure they were improving the lives of citizens. They turned to Milepost to build a strategic communications effort that would successfully engage and energize employees at all levels around the initiative.

OUR APPROACH

Milepost began the process by facilitating conversations among the initiative’s key stakeholders to gain a solid understanding of their goals, barriers to be strategically addressed, opportunities to highlight and leverage, and target audience insights. Milepost crafted a comprehensive Communication Plan for the initiative that included a timeline of recommended roll-out activities, branding that would help the initiative stand out and feel fun, fresh and exciting, and the distillation of large amounts of information into concise and easy-to-digest communications.

THE RESULTS

We delivered a full suite of tools that ensured that all communications matched in tone, messaging and design. Most notably, the Performance Management Initiative Manual not only defined the initiative, but connected it directly to the organization’s mission and strategic plan. It also specified concrete steps that Parks staff could take to integrate the initiative into their unique roles. Following the launch, the lead initiative designer was promoted and credits the Manual as a key influencer given the success of the roll-out and adoption.

OUR ROLE

  • Facilitation
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Branding & Graphic Design
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Building and Branding 2030 Districts Resources

THE NEED

The 2030 Districts is national public-private partnership composed of leading U.S. cities seeking to reduce the environmental impacts of the built environment. With a rapidly expanding, diverse roster of partners and collaborators, they wanted to undertake a comprehensive redesign of their vast online resources to ensure available tools were inclusive, professional and consistent. The 2030 Districts network needed a fresh design that would accommodate new resources and partnerships, organize the information in a user-friendly format and establish an engaging, aligned brand.

OUR APPROACH

Milepost conducted a comprehensive review of the available resources and performed a gap analysis to guide development of additional tools. We worked with staff and stakeholders to refine and implement a branding strategy among web resources and leveraged existing materials and partnerships to build a comprehensive set of 2030 Districts Toolkits. Toolkits included district formation, technical assistance, metric development and tracking, and branding – everything needed to launch new districts and support existing districts to improve. Milepost created original graphic components for Toolkits and guided the web developer through site design.

THE RESULTS

The 2030 Districts network debuted a beautiful, easy-to-use website that serves the diverse needs of current participants as well as cities starting their own districts. The enhanced 2030 Districts Toolkits offer thorough yet simplified information and tools that help districts brand, market, build membership and advance sustainability goals.

OUR ROLE

  • Strategic Planning
  • Market Research
  • Technical Resource Development
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Strategic Communications
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Helping the Mango Industry Understand Its Risks

THE NEED

The National Mango Board (NMB) wanted to conduct a sustainability assessment that would enable producers, packers and importers of mangoes into the U.S. to share industry best practices, ensure supply chain risks and opportunities were known to the best possible degree, and guarantee all the above were supportable by accurate and relevant data.

OUR APPROACH

Milepost designed a materiality assessment to gather information about Board perceptions of sustainability and created a methodology that gathered both social and environmental sustainability data from growing regions in Mexico and Brazil. This included an online, self-reported data gathering component as well as on-site visits designed to validate reported data. The project’s emphasis on primary data gathering and a baseline comparison, along with the creation of a multi-year self-assessment tool for producers and packers, resulted in a robust data set and report that is representative of the industry and allows for informed decision-making.

THE RESULTS

We successfully completed a greenhouse gas inventory and net carbon footprint calculation for a kilogram of mangoes produced in Mexico (2010 and 2014) or Brazil (2014 only) and imported into the U.S. This effort led our client to better understand their risks and opportunities in relation to sustainability and opened the door to the creation of a sustainability program that encompasses both production and packing.

OUR ROLE

  • Data Collection & Reporting
  • GHG Inventory
  • Carbon Footprint Calculation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Messaging & Storytelling
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Making Organizational Alignment Fun

THE NEED

After working closely with TVA’s EnergyRight® Solutions for Business & Industry (ERSBI) group to redesign team roles and functions to spur increased innovation and collaboration, ERSBI leadership enlisted Milepost to plan a launch meeting that would create a high level of team engagement and support for the new functional model.

OUR APPROACH

Milepost used storytelling to develop a train travel theme, which served as a metaphor for the team’s change and upcoming journey. All aspects of the meeting, from the agenda and location to branded collateral, were built around the theme to drive the impact home through a consistent narrative. We developed exercises that allowed for maximum participation, including time for each team member to present to others about their role and questions to generate group dialogue around how the functional model and tools would fit within existing work flows.

THE RESULTS

Hosted at a local train museum, the launch introduced the functional model to ERSBI staff as a train journey to 'Extraordinary' complete with personalized, branded tools to support the team’s 'travel'. We provided each employee with a train ticket detailing their role, a passenger manifest explaining colleagues’ roles, a roadmap outlining the destination and goals during the journey, and an infographic-based quality checklist specifying working norms and standards. Participants felt the process and resulting model were “unifying” and were excited to take their “programs to another level”.

OUR ROLE

  • Market Research
  • Branding & Graphic Design
  • Strategic Planning
  • Team Building
  • Messaging & Storytelling
  • Executive Coaching
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