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Article
Publication date: 4 July 2016

Nicole Sintov, Ellen Dux, Agassi Tran and Michael Orosz

The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the impact of a competition-based intervention combining high-resolution electricity feedback, incentives, information and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the impact of a competition-based intervention combining high-resolution electricity feedback, incentives, information and prompts on college dormitory residents’ energy consumption and participation in demand response events. The authors also investigated changes in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors and examined psychosocial correlates of behavior change.

Design/methodology/approach

Residents of 39 suites in a freshman residence hall competed against one another to reduce energy consumption and win prizes as part of a three-week competition. Feedback was provided in near real-time at the suite-level via an interactive touch-screen kiosk. Participants also completed baseline and follow-up surveys.

Findings

Electricity use among all suites was approximately 6.4 per cent lower during the competition period compared to baseline, a significant reduction. Additionally, participants reported engaging in various pro-environmental behaviors significantly more frequently during the competition relative to baseline. Changes in pro-environmental behavior were associated with changes in level of group identification and perceived social norms.

Practical implications

In three weeks, dormitory residents saved 3,158 kWh of electricity compared to baseline – the equivalent of more than 3,470 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The findings provide evidence that real-time feedback, combined with incentives, information and prompts, can motivate on-campus residents to reduce energy consumption.

Originality/value

The authors contribute to a limited body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of dorm energy competitions in motivating college students to save energy. In addition, the authors identified individual-level behavioral and psychosocial changes made during such an intervention. University residential life planners may also use the results of this research to inform student programming.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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