Behavior change

Webinar: Merging Technology and Science to Instill a Water Ethic: Innovative Customer Education Strategies for Water Managers

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST
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Water utilities now have a host of tools available to them – ranging from social media to mobile apps – to educate consumers on the need for efficiency. These strategies are becoming more diverse – and more effective – with a greater understanding of how people learn and new ways to monitor and communicate individual water consumption to customers. Innovative technologies and software, combined with principles of behavioral science, are being applied to the water industry for even greater impact in reducing water use and changing customer behavior. This webinar showcases two AWE members who are merging technology and scientific findings to help create smarter water consumers at home and in the classroom. Join us to stay ahead of the curve on innovations in efficiency.

Showcase 1: Lessons for Water Managers from Behavioral Science

The insights gleaned from behavioral science are often contrary to traditional economic theory. For example, giving customers information about how their water use compares to neighbors has a greater impact on reducing water use than purely economic messages that focus on lowering bills. A recent independent report showed that sending WaterSmart Software’s Home Water Reports with social norm comparisons resulted in an average of 4.4%-6.6% savings. This Showcase will demonstrate how WaterSmart partners with communities to apply behavioral science insights and achieve efficiency objectives.

Showcase 2: Educating Efficiency and the Role of STEM

MeterHero puts the power of tracking water and energy data in the hands of the individual. In partnership with the STEMhero program, MeterHero is being used by teachers around the country to help students learn about efficiency. The program focuses on participatory learning, building on research showing that students are more likely to retain learning when they have a hands-on experience. This Showcase will share the STEMhero curriculum that teachers and school districts are using in places like Milwaukee to help instill the lessons of water efficiency in the next generation.

Climate Week is over. What do we do now?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Jolting us back to earth from the exhilarating high of Climate Week was the release of a sobering report that atmospheric CO2 has reached record levels. From 2012 to 2013, atmospheric CO2 increased more than any other time since 1984.

Despite the marches, business coalitions, divestment pressure and political shifting, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to climb on average 2.5 percent per year for the last decade. Inspiration? Got it. Awareness? Check. Meaningful deep reductions in CO2 emissions? Not so much.

Why have we not been able to turn our good intentions into greenhouse gas reductions? Yes, some companies are taking climate seriously, seeing the opportunity of mitigating greenhouse gases, and indeed are making progress. But far more action is needed. How do we build on the growing concern among the public and the business community to achieve real, significant and lasting reductions in CO2 emissions—and fast?

There are many barriers to action. Chief among them, however, is that changing behavior is hard. As Amory Lovins and others have shown, we have the technology to achieve massive CO2 reductions, but that’s only one piece. Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim recently shared with me, “Technology gives us the ability to make changes. It does not give us the will. Will comes from an emotional connection.”

So how do we create a deep emotional connection to climate change, deep enough to motivate broad change and action?

A glimpse into our 2030 waste-free world

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Earth’s resources are unsustainable at current rates of consumption. By 2030, humans will require the equivalent resources of two Earths in order to maintain current lifestyles. Between now and then, society progressively will feel the pain of not having necessary resources and paying more for those that are still available. It’s clear that the world won’t be the same.

Part of the problem with addressing climate change is that the topic is so complex. For many of us today, it is difficult to understand that we all have a role in addressing the issue. But I believe that over the next 10 to 15 years, cutting carbon emissions will become “the norm” — a widespread activity among individuals, organizations and nations.

How do we change cultural norms? Let’s turn to a familiar example: smoking. Here’s a snapshot of what things looked like just 50 years ago:

Smart Homes Make For Angry Roommates

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If you’ve ever come home to a roommate’s dread passive-aggressive note tacked to the refrigerator door, you might not want to move into a smart home. Researchers have discovered that the smarter your home, the angrier roommates get at one another for wasting utilities.

According to research conducted by academics at the University of Nottingham, smart meters that allow housemates to track energy usage and how much it is costing the household in detail end up causing more fights than they resolve.

Does Responsible Consumption Benefit Companies More Than Consumers?

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Hybrid cars. Energy-efficient lightbulbs. Fair trade coffee. There are all sorts of products nowadays that promise to solve environmental and social problems. We’re in an era of “responsible consumption” where companies sell us goods that do better by the planet and make us feel better about our place on it. But do they make any meaningful difference?

Not according to a new paper by Markus Giesler and Ela Veresiu, two researchers at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in Canada. They argue that responsible consumption subtly shifts responsibility for big problems to consumers, leaving corporations free to continue as usual. Meanwhile, the people who should be changing the game–government and regulators–are left to one side.