Practices make Perfect: The Role of Energy Saving Practice Diffusion in Building Occupant Networks to Achieve Energy Conservation
Because of rising urban energy consumption, researchers are now exploring alternative ways to decrease energy demand by providing eco-feedback, such as electricity consumption to building occupants. Previous studies have revealed a link between providing users with socially contextualized feedback and a reduction in energy use. In other words, participants who were exposed to information about the energy usage of people in their peer network consumed less than those privy to feedback regarding only their own consumption. We believe that these reductions in energy consumption can be further enhanced and sustained by understanding the role of energy saving practices in conservation. In order to study this hypothesis, we will be conducting an energy experiment at a dormitory on Columbia University’s campus. Each room in the dormitory has been outfitted with a monitoring device that can provide instantaneous eco-feedback via the experiment’s website. Data regarding the adoption of energy saving practices and motivational drivers for adopting practices will be collected via a survey on the website. This data will be analyzed to determine how the diffusion of energy saving practices through the building occupant network affects energy consumption. In the end, researchers hope to understand how to influence the adoption and penetration of energy saving practices that will translate into substantial and sustainable reductions in urban energy consumption. As the world rapidly urbanizes, reducing urban energy consumption through eco-feedback will be of paramount importance to help curb the harshest effects of global climate change.