In this Issue: Call for CMB Presentation Proposals | Strategies for Sustainable Occupant Behaviors | The Washington State Sustainable Prisons Project | Meet Meredith Cowart, CMB Program Associate | Resources | Upcoming Events
This edition of the Climate, Mind and Behavior newsletter features two short articles with summaries and links to longer pieces on promoting sustainable behavior: One discusses strategies for engaging building occupants in more sustainable energy use practices. The other describes Washington's Sustainable Prisons Project.
You’ll also find a call for presentation proposals for the 2012 CMB symposium, held February 15-17, as well as an announcement about Meredith Cowart, whom we’re welcoming as the newest member of our CMB staff. Below that you’ll find a list of current news coverage, research articles and other resources, as well as a list of upcoming events.
CMB network members like you will help determine the agenda for the 2012 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium, held February 15-17. For the first time ever, we will solicit proposals for symposium presentations from a broad range of researchers, practitioners and others whose work pertains to sustainable behavior.
The 2012 CMB symposium will be organized around a set of specific themes. We will be publishing these themes next week along with a call for presentation proposals or abstracts. Presentations should explore specific research, and/or the process and outcomes of a specific intervention. They should share relevant insights and/or practical experience. Proposals will be reviewed and selected by program staff and the CMB steering committee. Watch for our RFP to be issued next week.
Individuals, households and communities are important partners in the work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Behavioral Wedge features 17 household actions that, if adopted in a large scale, could result in 123 million metric tons of carbon dioxide savings per year by year ten, with little or no reduction in household well-being. That is the equivalent of 20% of all household direct emissions or 7.4% of U.S. national emissions. Similarly, Laitner et al. identify the potential impact of changed habits, lifestyles and technology-based behaviors in terms of potential energy savings in the residential sector. They find that changed behaviors might reduce household energy use by about 22 percent within the United States.
There is consensus that behavior change at the household level could boost carbon mitigation efforts significantly, however the challenge lies in motivating people to participate. In a recent Environmental Building News article, Occupant Engagement - Where Design Meets Performance, Paula Melton introduces useful strategies for facilitating occupant engagement, which, she explains, "describes a building-wide culture in which empowered building occupants are aware of and accountable for their own energy and water use, waste disposal habits, and use of toxic chemicals." Everyone from architects and engineers to building manager and employers to occupants themselves can help create this culture.
The three strategies that she identifies are: designing for feedback; transforming social norms; and creating incentives.
1) Designing for feedback is becoming the norm in the building industry as local and state regulations require building owners to disclose energy consumption. Designers don't want to be held responsible for poor performance, which may actually be due to inefficient operational or occupant practices. Feedback systems help building operators and occupants understand how their choices affect their energy use, and empower them to cut back or shift their habits.
2) Transforming social norms entails tapping the power of interpersonal habits and expectations to help accomplish the transition to more sustainable practices. Melton writes, "Simplifying sustainability is key to the process of tenant and occupant engagement...it must be contextualized, direct, visually engaging, meaningful and part of a larger action plan." When social expectations related to energy use are clear, and building owners and managers reinforce them through direct communications, their own behaviors and other motivators (such as competitions or incentives), occupants will follow suit.
3) There are many creative ways of using incentives to motivate occupant engagement -- competitions, social media networks, goals and commitments, etc. Tapping into people’s playful or competitive side can achieve measurable energy savings. This has already been documented on college campuses, via inter-office challenges, and by utilities.
Read Melton's full article here.
At the recent CMB Strategic Planning Meeting we learned from Climate, Cities and Behavior network member Jill Boone about the Sustainable Prisons Project in the state of Washington, using science and sustainability education as a means of reducing recidivism. Literature on effective rehabilitation strategies highlights the benefits of academic education, vocational education and cognitive behavioral therapies. By combining all three, the Sustainable Prisons Project supports rehabilitative outcomes, inspires an environmental stewardship ethic and improves quality of life for men and women in prison. This paper offers a novel perspective on climate, mind and behavior, and lends some compelling insights to the broader CMB conversation.
Jill reached out to Sarah Clarke, the author of a recent Masters thesis analyzing the Sustainable Prison Project, who shared her study with us. We've included the abstract below, and a link to the full document is available here.
The Sustainable Prisons Project (SPP), a collaboration between the Evergreen State College and the Washington State Department of Corrections, brings extensive community partners together to offer science and sustainability education to incarcerated men and women (offenders) in four correctional facilities in Washington State. Using interviews and surveys of offenders and staff, this exploratory study drew upon a mixed methods analysis to evaluate the effects of the suite of SPP activities on participating offenders. This paper focuses on the qualitative findings from interviews. Rehabilitation programs that are aimed at reducing crimes once offenders are released are a major correctional strategy and a part of social sustainability. I examined the extent to which the SPP programs share characteristics with the most effective programs for reducing recidivism and assessed the significance of science and sustainability education in the rehabilitative potential of the SPP. Results suggest that SPP projects share characteristics with successful rehabilitation programs. Science and sustainability education appears to foster an environmental stewardship ethic and influences emotional health, improving the quality of offenders' lives while they are incarcerated and contributing to rehabilitative outcomes.
Meredith Cowart has joined the CMB team as Program Associate, replacing Emily Grady. Emily is leaving the Garrison Institute at the end of the year to pursue a Fulbright Fellowship in Argentina.
Boyce, Barry. 2011. "The Joy of Living Green," The Shambhala Sun Magazine, November edition.
Galbraith, Kate. 2011. "Austin Studies Power Grid, Including Plug-In Cars," The New York Times, September 29.
Hanscom, Greg. 2011. "Change Hurts: Influencing our Energy Behavior is Messy Business," Grist.org, October 19.
Hoyer, Wayne. 2011. Energy Poll. The University of Texas at Austin.
Leiserowitz, Anthony, Edward Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf and Jay D. Hmielowski. 2011. "Politics & Global Warming: Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and the Tea Party," Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Leiserowitz, Anthony, Edward Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf and Nicholas Smith. 2011. "Americans’ Actions to Conserve Energy, Reduce Waste, and Limit Global Warming," Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Margonelli, Lisa, John A. "Skip" Laitner and Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez. 2011. "The Energy Trap." The New America Foundation.
Nelson, Bryn. 2011. "The Self-Sufficient Office Building," The New York Times, October 4.
If there is an event you would like us to feature in our next newsletter, please
the details. We will also be creating an events calendar on our website, and will post submissions there as well.
November 30th - December 2nd, Behavior Energy and Climate Change Conference. The Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference is the fifth annual conference focused on understanding the nature of individual and organizational behavior and decision making, and using that knowledge to accelerate our transition to an energy-efficient and low carbon economy. It will build on the overwhelming success of previous BECC conferences, at which more than 650 participants discussed successful policy and program strategies, shared important research findings, and built dynamic new networks and collaborations. For more information, please visit the BECC website.
February 15th - February 17th, The third annual Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium. A Garrison Institute Program. We will explore the connection between social sciences research and human-based solutions to climate change. The Climate, Mind and Behavior program seeks to translate science-based knowledge into smart, new initiatives that reduce our energy and carbon footprints in ways that are better aligned with human nature. By invitation.
February 22nd - April 8th, The Annual Lenten Carbon Fast. Over 6000 people from 14 countries participated in the first Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast in 2011. The Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ is planning the 2012 carbon fast. Beginning Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, participants will receive a daily email with the day's suggested carbon-reducing activity. When possible, this will include a quantitative measure of the carbon reduction resulting from the activity. Each daily email will also have a section suggesting a weekly focus for the congregation. More information is available on the Massachusetts UCC website.
April 25th - April 27th, The second annual Climate, Cities and Behavior Symposium. A Garrison Institute Program. We will explore how city leaders - mayors, planners, sustainability directors and transportation commissioners - can use social science insights to foster pro-social and pro-environmental behavior in their cities and reduce their carbon footprint. By invitation.
May 16th - May 18th, The fourth annual Climate, Buildings and Behavior Symposium. A Garrison Institute Program. We will explore how building managers and occupants can use social science insights to foster pro-social and pro-environmental behavior in their buildings and reduce their carbon footprint. By invitation.
July 1st - 7th, Summer Institute: Contemplative Environmental Studies: Pedagogy for Self and Planet (Lama Foundation, New Mexico). Environmental challenges call into question not simply our technological, economic, and political capabilities, but also our understandings of who we are as a species, and how we fit into the broader more-than-human world. The Summer Institute aims to develop tools for teaching and researching environmental dilemmas with this broader sensibility in mind. It focuses on the interface between environmental challenges and contemplative practices with the understanding that the latter can provide access to inner resources for understanding and responding meaningfully to environmental issues. Part workshop/part retreat, this experiential Institute will combine discussions and presentations with contemplative practice. For more information click here.
Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez Contact/Bio
Climate, Mind and Behavior Leadership Council:
Dina Biscotti, UC Davis
Uwe Brandes, Urban Land Institute
Marilyn Cornelius, Stanford University
Jeff Domanski, Princeton University
Becky Ford, University of Otago, New Zealand
Ruth Greenspan-Bell, Woodrow Wilson Intl Center for Scholars
Lauren Kubiak, Natural Resources Defense Council
Skip Laitner, ACEEE
John McIlwain, Urban Land Institute
Nils Moe, Urban Sustainability Directors Network
Phil Payne, Gingko Residential
Roger Platt, USGBC
Jonathan Rose, Garrison Institute Board Member
Kurth Roth, Fraunhofer Institute
Jonathan Rowson, RSA
Rachael Shwom, Rutgers University
Jennifer Tabanico, Action Research
Jason Twill, Vulcan Inc.