Changing Energy Behavior Through Community Based Social Marketing
Achieving carbon neutrality on college and university campuses will require more than just new technologies. Behavior change programs are a highly cost effective method of reducing costs and carbon emissions; however most facilities and sustainability offices lack training in the social science of behavior change. This paper introduces readers to Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM), a systematic, empirically grounded approach to behavior change. A team of faculty, staff, and students used CBSM to develop the behavioral component of Oberlin College’s Climate Action Plan—targeted to eliminate 10–15 % of the College’s carbon emissions. After analyzing the College’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory we identified a short list of behaviors associated with significant carbon emissions to target for further study. Quantitative surveys, qualitative focus groups, and field observations were used to collect baseline data on these behaviors, as well as to identify the key barriers to changing them. Two behaviors were targeted for initial intervention: turning off lights in unused classrooms, and using cold water for washing laundry. We developed interventions using insights from our survey results as well as insights from behavior change research, and conducted two field studies to evaluate their effectiveness. This paper concludes with a discussion of lessons learned and suggestions for the implementation of CBSM research programs at other institutions. The approach described here is replicable at other institutions. It also provides students with an engaging real world context in which to learn and practice basic research skills, thus furthering a core curricular goal of higher education.
Frantz, Cynthia McPherson, Bridget Flynn, Stephanie Atwood, et al. "Changing Energy Behavior Through Community Based Social Marketing." In The Contribution of Social Sciences to Sustainable Development at Universities, edited by Walter Leal Filho and Michaela Zint, 259-272. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2016.
Springer International Publishing
Climate neutrality, Behavior change, Education, Research skills, Conservation, Community based social marketing