Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2011.


A voluntary environmental program (VEP) called Climate Leaders was recently cancelled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To find out why and gather lessons learned, the program was examined using a three-pronged approach: 1) a meta-analysis of program evaluation theory literature, 2) a review of guides and external reports on Climate Leaders, and 3) interviews with former program participants and implementers. Findings reveal that environmental protection is best achieved by combining regulation with voluntary methods as they complement and buttress each other. Recommendations were compiled to help future VEPs minimize wasted resources and improve environmental conditions. These recommendations were vetted by industry, and ultimately contribute to a comprehensive “guiding framework” for the design, implementation, and evaluation of VEPs. Existing VEP models and evaluative tools still lack the perspective of several key disciplines, so additional program evaluations are necessary to capture all of the primary characteristics correlated with program success and complete the guiding framework.



Date Posted: 15 November 2011