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Social Norms and Conservation Behavior Results from the 2012 Campus Energy and Sustainability Behavior undergraduate survey Adam Zwickle, Ohio State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Norms and Conservation Behavior Results from the 2012 Campus Energy and Sustainability Behavior undergraduate survey Adam Zwickle, Ohio State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Norms and Conservation Behavior Results from the 2012 Campus Energy and Sustainability Behavior undergraduate survey Adam Zwickle, Ohio State University

2 Methodology  Online survey  Sent via  Sent to over 10,000 currently enrolled undergraduates  19.3% response rate  Non-response follow up

3 Format  30 questions gauging sustainability literacy  Familiarity with OSU’s efforts towards sustainability  Energy conservation related behaviors  Barriers to energy conservation  Social norms towards energy conservation

4 Sustainability Literacy  Fulfillment of AASHE STARS credit  Filling a much needed niche  Recognizing that “Sustainability” includes:  Environmental  Social  Economic  30 questions, multiple choice  ~14% finished entire quiz

5 Sustainability Literacy  A tool to assess sustainability related knowledge is:  Useful for the university  Lacking in the scientific community  Immensely applicable  We are continuing to refine and improve this…

6 Familiarity with OSU’s efforts towards sustainability

7 Energy conservation related behaviors… Convincing others

8 Energy conservation related behaviors… Reporting problems

9 Energy conservation related behaviors… Reporting problems

10 Energy conservation related behaviors… “What would encourage you to report an energy related problem?” SUMMARY: 904/1340 supplied comments. This very high response rate on an open ended question suggests it is something that students feel is important. Students need to: 1.Know what an energy related problem is (often times lights are left on for a reason). 2.Be told they have the authority to report it 3.Know who/where to report the problem to 4.Be informed of the consequences of energy problems (mainly in terms of their tuition) 5.Have an easy way to report it (text or smart phone app). 6.Possibly receive some sort of reward (money on BuckID, free meal swipe)

11 Barriers to energy conservation

12 SUMMARY: 193 comments given under “Other.” Students need to: 1.Be reminded that the last person out of any room is responsible for turning the lights off 2.Know that it is ‘ok’ (both in regards to their peers, and to faculty/employees) for them to turn off the lights 3.Have easy access to light switches (be placed by entrance/exit)

13 Barriers to energy conservation SUGGESTION: In this and the previous question, numerous comments focused on the fact that many lights are left on 24/7 around campus. This presents an opportunity for OSU to lead by example and create a program to reduce energy usage and enlist the help of students (in both turning off lights and reporting wasteful consumption).

14 Social norms towards energy conservation What percentage of OSU students do you think regularly turn off the lights when they leave an empty room?  38.2% Do you regularly turn off the lights..?  89.6%

15 Social norms towards energy conservation Suggestion : Highlight the fact that nearly 9/10 students regularly turn out the lights. Many comments centered on people not feeling comfortable about turning out the lights in public rooms (even though they are empty), because of what others might think of them.

16 Social norms towards energy conservation

17 Suggestion : Just over 50% of students are at least moderately likely to feel guilty and embarrassed about not turning off the lights. From a psychological perspective these students are the ones who are the most motivated to change their behavior. Giving permission or assigning responsibility to turn out lights on campus may be a successful way of reducing the amount of perceived social pressure students feel to not turn off the lights.

18 Moving Forward This study:  Will serve as a baseline for future reference  Can be easily conducted (and adapted) each year  Will be a valuable tool at evaluating changes in behavior, knowledge, and norms

19 Moving Forward This study provides:  Concrete data to back up anecdotal observations  Clear suggestions of how to begin changing students’ behavior  Further opportunities of partnering with academic departments and graduate students


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