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The value of feedback in implementing an individual energy-saving adaptation
Zeitschriftenausgabe (-> Ref.Nr):
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
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The purpose of this research is to explore the drivers of computer-related sustainability behavior at a medium-sized US university and the extent to which an inexpensive energy-saving device installed on 146 administrator, faculty and general staff workstations achieved significant savings in kWh, CO2 kg and dollars.

A mixed-method approach was used to collect qualitative and quantitative data to inform the study, and an intervention was introduced to raise awareness of energy-saving initiatives on a medium-sized university campus at an individual level. A simple computer energy efficiency device to measure the kWh, carbon emissions and monetary savings was installed on office workstations of 146 administrator, faculty and general staff. The research design enabled analysis of university mitigation strategies along with energy-saving behaviors, attitudes and savings in CO2 kg and dollars resulting from the installation of the adaptation intervention.

Extrapolating individual workstation savings over the eight-week study period suggests potential annual average savings of $122,087.21; 1,327,003 kWh of energy; and 577,044 kg CO2. Usage behaviors and attitudes of study participants toward green practices in general and the specific energy-saving device showed participants hold highly positive attitudes toward both. Themes that captured participants′ feeling toward the energy-saving device included: easy to use; enjoyment; feedback; habit and technical issues. Drivers that most highly motivated participants to save energy at work were participants′ sense of social responsibility and the recognition of the need to reduce energy at work.

Practical implications
The implementation of a voluntary individual-level energy-saving adaptation has the potential to be more far effective than expensive mandated strategies imposed on university employees and the value of feedback in positively influencing sustainability behavior.

This study is one of the first to report on the implementation of a voluntary individual-level climate change adaptation intervention on a university campus. The research addresses concerns voiced in previous literature that higher education is not stepping up the critical role in climate adaptation required of it and contributes to the sustainability in higher education literature by providing empirical evidence of the usefulness of implementing a simple adaptation technique. Specifically, it documents how increasing sustainability awareness in university employees can encourage socially responsible and energy conversation behaviors and achieve significant energy savings in dollars, kWh and CO2 kg.
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