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From Operators to Occupants: Engaging Everybody in Sustainability
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From Operators to Occupants: Engaging Everybody in Sustainability


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Transforming occupant and staff behavior is notoriously tricky, but is vital to translating top-level sustainability intents, such as LEED-EBOM certification, into bottom-level actions and outcomes.

This discussion will present strategies to help you engage building occupants and operators in a variety sustainability initiatives and - through work culture and incentives encourage building occupants to be the eyes, ears and hands of a sustainability program.

You will get a detailed look into how to build enthusiasm and cooperation around environmental goals, and how to successfully implement these practices into day-to-day operations with a focus on the importance of getting staff and occupants engaged in workplace hygiene programs.

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  • VIDEO: Broken Sprinkler
  • People putting up signs like this…
  • It’s not my responsibility: It was the street painter’s job to paint the road, but not to pick up the roadkill.This is what happens when we don’t work together. Fosters the attitude of “It’s not my responsibility.”
  • Source http://www.todaysfacilitymanager.com/articles/does-it-pay-to-pursue-plug-load-reductions.php
  • LBNL StudyIn a 2006 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), six researchers audited 16 facilities in three cities (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco). The team conducted a series of after hours surveys, recording the number and types of office equipment (OE) and miscellaneous equipment (ME). In all, the team audited approximately 4,000 units of OE and 6,000 units of ME, noting items “ranging from electric pencil sharpeners with a unit energy consumption (UEC) of 1 kWh/yr to a kiln with a UEC of 7,000 kWh/yr.” Among its findings, the LBNL team identified several types of equipment as notably large energy consumers. The top five were cold beverage vending machines, commercial refrigerators, computer speakers, Ethernet switches, and commercial freezers. (FMs should check condenser coils on vending machines and refrigerators, since dust and other debris on those coils can prevent efficient heat transfer—and increase electrical load.)http://enduse.lbl.gov/info/LBNL-53729_REV.pdf
  • VIDEO: Fish Tank Screen Saver
  • Space Heater by Reverend Horton Heat, album published in Mar 1998
  • Regarding space heaters:Generally big energy hogs (except newer low-wattage floor mat type heaters)-Often sign of problem with HVAC system that should be investigated and remedied-Depending on proximity to thermostats, can trick centralized system into working harder (e.g., space heater in summer makes air conditioner think it needs to work harder)
  • Audit shows that people are slackers when it comes to recycling plastic, metals and glass. Maybe they don’t know they can recycle these, or the bins are too far, or whatever.
  • Economists like to treat people like they are rational human beings always making rational choices. Behavior Economics says we are quirky Let’s say that every time you ride public transit, your fare card with its unique number also buys you a ticket to a periodic $50,000 lottery. Your number can turn up any day of the week, but you only win if you rode public transit that day. Think you might start taking public transit more often?Behavioral economists say that we are quirkier and more complicated than that. Instead of carefully weighing the choices, we often make decisions based on gut instinct. Or we get overwhelmed and do nothing. But by any name, taking account of normal human tendencies promises a more realistic way of predicting and influencing how people act.
  • “Martin Luther King didn’t say ‘I have a nightmare,’” says Leiserowtiz. “He said, ‘I have a dream.’ And that’s what made people willing to put their bodies on the line, to bring that vision into being.”That may include reshaping the central message of the environmental movement itself. “We know from a lot of psychological research that people are loss averse,” says Leiserowitz, “and the environmental community has done a terrific job of depicting the problem in terms of loss — endangered species, climate change, deforestation. The flip side is that the environmental community has been pretty bad at describing solutions, which often get framed in terms of loss as well: Get rid of your car, turn down the heat, get by with less. It’s disempowering. It makes people give up and do nothing.”Pic – painting this picture doesn’t get anybody to do anything.
  • http://csdl.ics.hawaii.edu/techreports/10-07/10-07.pdf
  • http://csdl.ics.hawaii.edu/techreports/10-07/10-07.pdf
  • http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • VIDEO: Piano Stairs
  • Lucid Environmental Monitoring System – shared data, its visual, it’s a basis for benchmarking and goal setting.
  • AECOM went through a cool printer paper monitoring program: In Spring 2008, employees started “The Great Paper Chase” to convince the company to make a switch to 100% recycled paper. The office started tracking their printing to make people more aware of printing costs and paper consumption. See attached graph from their office – awareness campaign greatly cut back on their printing, and they were able to justify the added cost of the recycled paper.  Even with this added cost of using the recycled paper, the company ended up saving over $65k in 6 months!
  • Another way you can change people, by showing them exactly what they are using.
  • Contest in some MA communitiesChallengesThe Energy Smackdown™ is organized into two broad challenges. Household challenge: Participants are evaluated based on their percent reduction in per person CO2 emissions as well as per person carbon footprint. Reductions are measured in five areas: electricityheating (home, hot water, plus cooking and dryer if gas)travel (car and non-business plane travel)Waste, consumption of meatTeam challenge: Members of a community or organization work together to expand their impact.Points are awarded based on the total nuggets the team members have collected. As part of the Team Challenge, special challenge events are organized to highlight key issues related to energy consumption and to increase awareness in the community. Points earned in challenge events are added to the team score.
  • Called the National Building Competition, it is patterned after “The Biggest Loser,” an NBC show that spotlights overweight contestants trying to lose weight.http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/may-the-trimmest-building-win/“We came up with the idea that most everyone could relate to the idea of losing weight, and that having U.S. buildings try to shed their energy waste made sense,” Maura Beard, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A.’s Energy Star program, said in an e-mail message. “We felt people could follow the contestants, relate to their efforts and encourage similar changes in buildings across the country.”
  • Image on left: From post-op evaluation of LEED-NC Gold building. Recycling was a mess, mostly because of factors that made recycling inconvenient. For example, collection bins way too small for the job, jammed underneath a chair in a breakroom.Images on right: There are lots of tools for making things easier for occupants/operators to get right:Clear bags for recycling so cleaners can easily see which bags go into recycling dumpster and which go into trashBins all over the place so people don’t have to travel farther to recycle
  • Sticker says “Help reduce waste, please use the other roll.”This prevents multiple partially used rolls, which housekeepers then throw out when it’s time to reload. An, since it’s not particularly inconvenient to use the other roll, people comply.
  • http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/329First, they tested the familiar exhortations to "Help save the environment" and "Help save resources for future generations." These messages had similar success rates, convincing an unimpressive 30 percent of guests to reuse their towels after one night.Things improved, however, when the research team resorted to peer pressure. The invitation to "Join your fellow guests in helping to save the environment"--including the justifiable statement that nearly three-quarters of guests used their towels more than once--garnered a 44 percent participation rate after one night. Then, the researchers drew guests’ peers even closer: "Seventy-five percent of the guests who stayed in this room ... [used] their towels more than once," they asserted. With the ghosts of former guests peeping over their shoulders, nearly 50 percent of hotel customers hung up their towels.In one hotel, people didn't feel comfortable not washing sheets until hotel came out with message saying "90% of people who have used this room have not washed their sheets placing them in the context of other people like themselvesThere's a simple social psychological phenomenon at work here: the flocking instinct. People want to do basically what People Like Them do. They don't want to be outliers.
  • http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2141One of the most successful experiments using the social norm dates back to the 1980s in Hood River, Ore., where local civic groups campaigned to enroll entire neighborhoods in a weatherization campaign, so contractors could move efficiently from house to house. “It wasn’t about the marketing budget,” says Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “it was about creating the impression that all your neighbors were doing it and that it was really unacceptable not to do it. If you didn’t do it, the Boy Scouts showed up at your door wondering what was going on.”Despite original estimates that 20 to 30 percent of the 3,500 homes in Hood River would participate, the actual results were closer to 90 percent. Cavanagh says that officials from other areas in the U.S. have recently expressed interest in replicating the program.
  • Commitment has also been used to promote bus ridership. Individuals who did not ride the bus were assigned to one of three conditions. In the "information only" condition, participants received route and schedule information and an identification card that allowed ridership to be monitored. In the "commitment condition," participants made a verbal pledge to ride the bus twice a week for four weeks, while in the "incentive condition," participants were given ten free bus tickets and were informed that they could receive more tickets when they had used the initial tickets. Finally, in the "combined condition," participants both made a pledge to ride twice a week for four weeks and received free tickets. Each of the three conditions increased bus ridership. However, participants in the "commitment only" condition rode the bus just as frequently as the participants in the "incentive condition" and the "combined condition". Importantly, these effects were observable during two follow-ups, conducted at three and twelve weeks after the intervention.http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/commitment
  • When people have bad experiences with “green” products, like occupancy sensors going crazy, efficient lighting situations that are not good enough, etc. people respond by not wanting to do “green” stuff. Occupant satisfaction encourages good occupant behaviors.Bad light levels – makes people annoyed, angry, tired… and studies find that it even makes people dishonest!Pic on left = crazy dance to get the occupancy sensors to work…. Pic on right… really bad lighting.
  • Economist intelligence


  • 1. Engaging Occupants & Operators in Sustainability Initiatives
  • 2. Agenda:
    • Why People Matter
    • 3. A Brief Overview of Behavioral Tendencies
    • 4. Strategies for Getting Somewhere
    • 5. Fun
    • 6. Competition
    • 7. Enabling Feedback
    • 8. Convenience
    • 9. Peer Pressure
    • 10. Cold hard cash (or other prizes)
  • Why People Matter
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13. What Drives Building Performance?
    Source: New Buildings Institute
  • 14. “There’s a new energy hog in town!”
    Plug loads increased from 3% to 14% from 1990 to 2010
    The Rise of Plug Loads
  • 15. 6’6”
    The Usual Suspects
  • 16. Phantom Load Culprits
  • 17. Occupant behavior has a big impact on business equipment plug loads
    Source: EYP / Energy http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/
    Does Changed Behavior Matter?
  • 18. How many people actually shut down?
  • 19.
  • 20.
  • 21. What’s wrong? The person or the building?
  • 22. Source: YRG Waste Audit
    Waste Audit - Findings
  • 23. Waste Audit - Findings
    Source: YRG Waste Audit
  • 24. Behavioral Tendencies
  • 25. Tapping into Loss Aversion will Only Get You so Far
  • 26.
    • Providing info about sustainability behavior leads to an understanding of what sustainable behavior is, not changed behavior.
    • 27. A good attitude doesn’t correlate to good behavior
    • 28. We choose info campaigns because the are relatively easy. But, also expensive and ineffective.
    Source: R.S. Brewer, G.E. Lee, and P.M. Johnson, “The Kukui Cup: A Dorm Energy Competition Focused on Sustainable Behavior Change and Energy Literacy”
    Awareness is not Enough
  • 29. Financial benefits ≠ Behavior change
    • Utility programs that advertise to customers how to save energy and money are largely ineffective
    • 30. Behavioral economics suggest we are not the rationale actors we think we are. Or, maybe we’re rationale enough but money isn’t everything.
    Economic Self-interest is not Enough
  • 31. Step 1. Identify Barriers
    • Barriers might be about the people or the infrastructure
    • 32. Different kinds of people = different barriers
    • 33. Different kinds of environmental activities = different barriers
    An Alternative
    Doug McKenzie-Mohr, http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • 34. Step 2. Decide on Some Effective Tools
    • Real-time feedback
    • 35. Commitments (start small, make public)
    • 36. Social norms
    • 37. Personal contact
    An Alternative
    Doug McKenzie-Mohr, http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • 38. Step 3. Pilot
    • Make sure your ideas work before spending $$$$
    • 39. Refine your program
    • 40. Test multiple strategies against each other
    An Alternative
    Doug McKenzie-Mohr, http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • 41. Step 4. Evaluate
    • Find an appropriate metric
    • 42. Refine your program
    An Alternative
    Doug McKenzie-Mohr, http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface
  • 43. Recommissioning the Occupant
  • 44. What makes people choose the stairs over the escalator?
    Source: The Fun Theory – www.thefuntheory.com
    Fun Theory
  • 45. Enabling Feedback
  • 46. Enabling Feedback
  • 47.
  • 48.
    • On average, the introduction of real-time consumption feedback systems leads to energy use reductions between 5-15%.
    • 49. Feedback alone is good, but maybe not enough
    - S. Darby, “The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption.”
    Enabling Feedback
  • 50. AECOM’s “Great Paper Chase”
    • Employees wanted 100% recycled content, but there was a premium
    • 51. Began tracking/awareness campaign
    • 52. Even after switch to higher cost recycled paper, saved $65k in 6 months
    Enabling Feedback
  • 53. How much printing is Chris doing?
    Feedback on individual use can foster a personal attachment to the impacts
    Enabling Feedback
  • 54. Competition
  • 55. The Kilowatt Crackdown: The Stanley Cup of Energy Efficiency
    • 20 percent of the Puget Sound office space participated
    • 56. Unico’s Financial center and IBM lead the charge with 17% and 14% savings respectively
    Example – The Kilowatt Crackdown
  • 57. Example – Energy Smackdown Residential Program
  • 58. Example – May the Trimmest Building Win
  • 59. The Convenience Barrier
  • 60. Make things convenient and obvious
  • 61. Make things convenient and obvious
  • 62. Sticker =Effective Tool?
  • 63. Peer Pressure
  • 64. “Seventy-five percent of the guests who stayed in this room ... used their towels more than once…”
    Flocking Instinct – Good Old Fashioned Peer Pressure
  • 65. By dpstyles™ on flikr!
    Flocking Instinct – Good Old Fashioned Peer Pressure
  • 66. Want to change transit use? Which option would you choose?
    Information Only – Where to Ride
    Commitment – Pledge to Ride
    Incentive – Free Ride
    Combination – Commitment & Incentive
    Cold Hard Cash or Commitment?
  • 67. Electric Bill Example
    Energy Used Last Month: 1,137 kWh
    Electricity Bill: $67.12
    Your Energy Use compared to your neighbors:
    Most Energy Use
    Least Energy Use
  • 68. Electric Bill Example
    Energy Used Last Month: 637 kWh
    Electricity Bill: $22.82
    Your Energy Use compared to your neighbors:
    Most Energy Use
    Least Energy Use
  • 69. “Green is Bad” Syndrome
    Vet Your Green Strategies Carefully to Keep Occupants Happy (and Helpful)
  • 70. Work smart, not hard
    Know thyself
    Know thy impact
    Focus on your core strengths
    Ask not what your company can do for sustainability; Ask what sustainability can do for your company
    Have clear leadership and board-level support
    Remember your supply chain
    Monitor and Report
    10 Lessons for Business Leaders on Sustainability
    Source: “Doing Good: Business and the Sustainability Challenge,” Economist Intelligence Unit, 2008
  • 71. YRG sustainabilityconsulting – education – analysis
    Josh Radoff, Principal
    Member, SCA Tissue’s Tork® Green Hygiene Council™