Title

Living Green: Examining Sustainable Dorms and Identities

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of living in “green” dorms on students’ environmentally responsible behaviors (ERBs), in concert with other factors, including individual identity and social context in the form of behavior modeling by peers. Design/methodology/approach: The sample of 243 consists of students who resided in two newly constructed, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold-certified dorms and two conventional dorms. The authors analyze the data collected at the end of the respondents’ freshmen year at Emory University using seemingly unrelated regression analysis. Findings: Findings indicate that students who live in “green” dorms engage in more recycling and advocacy behaviors than students in conventional dorms. Environmental identity and perceived behavior modeling by peers positively affect recycling, advocacy and conservation. Furthermore, results indicate an interaction between dorm and identity whereby students with weak environmental identities experience a greater increase in ERBs from living in green dorms than do students with strong environmental identities. Practical implications: These results show that universities do promote students’ ERBs through the construction of green residence halls. Universities can also facilitate ERBs by encouraging students to develop strong environmental identities and fostering opportunities for them to engage in ERBs with their peers. Originality/value: This study is valuable for both its practical implications and the theoretical implications for predicting ERBs. The findings indicate that to predict ERBs, it is necessary to consider both contextual and individual level factors.

Publisher

Emerald Group Publishing

Publication Date

5-5-2015

Publication Title

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1108/IJSHE-09-2013-0118

Keywords

University sustainability, Environmental identity, Environmentally responsible behavior, Peer influence, Sustainable dorms

Language

English

Format

text

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