Public university buildings are fascinating if somewhat complicated behavior settings. Designed and managed for a broad range of users, these buildings present a challenge to those trying to promote energy conservation. This is even more so when the goal is not a technology-based approach but conservation through direct involvement. This article discusses one type of participation - the use of energy monitors to promote campus sustainability. Volunteer staff members were given responsibility for monitoring lighting energy usage in the public and shared spaces near their offices. They were encouraged to promote energy conservation by shutting off unneeded lights and by informally discussing their activities with other building users. This relatively simple and direct approach proved effective in reducing energy waste.
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"For instance, Staats et al. (2004) found that when people worked with neighbors to discuss ways to reduce their energy consumption and trash generation, they were successful in achieving these goals. Likewise, De Young (1989-1990) found that when university staff members were given responsibility for monitoring their buildings' energy usage and promoting energy conservation (on a voluntary basis), energy use in their building areas declined substantially. Also, in a study of small-scale sustainability initiatives, Irvine and Kaplan (2001) found that individuals were willing to change their unsustainable behaviors if community members asked them to do so and explained the rationale. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose – The authors led an interdisciplinary team that developed recommendations for building a “culture of environmental sustainability” at the University of Michigan (UM), and the purpose of this paper is to provide guidance on how other institutions might promote pro-environmental behaviors on their campuses. Design/methodology/approach – The authors synthesize research on fostering environmental behavior, analyze how current campus sustainability efforts align with that research, and describe how they developed research-based recommendations to increase environmental sustainability on the UM campus. Findings – Analyses of prior research suggest that there are five factors that influence individuals' pro-environment behaviors: knowledge of issues; knowledge of procedures; social incentives; material incentives; and prompts/reminders. Given these factors, UM should pursue three types of activities to support the development of pro-environment behaviors: education, engagement, and assessment. Practical implications – The specific recommendations in this report are for the University of Michigan. However, other institutions interested in fostering a culture of environmental sustainability might benefit from undertaking similar comprehensive assessments of how they could support community members' development of pro-environment behavior and knowledge. Originality/value – The paper builds on prior research to offer a new vision for how to develop a culture of environmental sustainability on a large university campus.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 09/2012; 13(4):365-377. DOI:10.1108/14676371211262317 · 0.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Observations of residential water consumption were conducted with 510 individuals living at two northern Mexican cities. In addition, they responded to a questionnaire investigating their general environmental beliefs and their specific (utilitarian–anthropocentric, and ecological) beliefs regarding the status of water as a natural resource. General environmental beliefs were modeled as having a tri-factorial structure, including beliefs regarding (1) the need of maintaining a “balance” with nature, (2) the need of imposing “limits” to human growth, and (3) a human exception paradigm (HEP). Two structural models of relations between general environmental beliefs, specific water beliefs and water consumption were specified and tested. The first model failed in producing direct effects of general environmental beliefs on water consumption. The second model revealed that general environmental beliefs differentially influenced the development of specific beliefs regarding water: Utilitarian water beliefs were positively affected by the HEP, while ecological water beliefs were positively influenced by “limits” beliefs and were negatively related to the HEP. Utilitarian water beliefs, in turn promoted water consumption, while the ecological water beliefs inhibited that behavior.