Behavioral Approaches to Energy Conservation in Organizations: A Selected Review of the Literature.

Council of Planning Librarians 01/1984;


Despite the widely acknowledged importance of energy conservation and the steadily growing volume of research in this area, energy conservation in the institutional context has received little attention. No doubt many strategies and approaches have been applied in a variety of institutions, but these have generally not been based on any systematic research. The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the behavioral approaches that have been used and to extend this material to the context of energy conservation in organizational settings, and in particular to campus sustainability initiatives.

The discussion of behaviorally-based conservation strategies will focus on the role of two main factors: motivation and information. Both factors have been investigated by the behavioral sciences because of their hypothesized effect on human behavior. While these can be labeled readily, they are, in fact, often not clearly distinguishable from each other. Information can in itself provide some motivation and incentives can in themselves have informational properties. Nonetheless, it is useful to distinguish these two factors and this document will examine research findings which speak to their effectiveness in different situations.

Download full-text


Available from: Raymond K De Young, Dec 31, 2013
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Energy conservation measures are only one - and quite an expensive - way of mak- ing the use of energy more efficient. Higher energy efficiency can also be achieved by mak- ing sensible decisions about future energy consumption, e.g. when new buildings are con- structed, or when energy-consuming equipment is purchased. However, this is rarely done, as the study reported here demonstrates. The development of electricity consumption within the period 1986-1996 was em- pirically studied in a Swiss nation-wide survey of office buildings. Data was collected in two ways: via energy audits and in interviews with a sample of building and organisation repre- sentatives. The study analyses electric energy intensities, changes in the stock and control of end-use equipment (which I refer to as energy-relevant events) and the decision-making be- hind these changes. Energy conservation measures were found to be more frequently implemented in buildings with professional energy managers or where energy was monitored by a director. However, only one seventh of the accumulated effect of all the consumption-decreasing events were caused by explicit conservation measures. In contrast, almost four fifths of the decreasing effect was caused by events where energy savings were not an issue (e.g. centrali- sation of computer suites). Thus, in this case, a model of purposive action fails to explain energy consequences. In such situations, it is more appropriate to use a model of organisa- tional decision-making and to analyse the enforcing and constraining impact of social insti- tutions and technical infrastructures.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2000