Archive for July, 2011

July 25, 2011

Changing Behavior Versus Changing Technology

Max Temkin Poster

Image: Max Temkin via Grist.org

Grist featured this great print by Max Temkin recently which really resonates with some conversations we’ve had with clients lately. It turns out there are problems that are better solved by influencing behavior than by upgrading technology. We’ve spoken before about how to operate a building for high performance instead of just designing for efficiency and calling it a day.  Our upcoming free webinar; “Why Isn’t My LEED Plaque Performing?” dives further into how to improve the aspects of performance that are driven by people more than equipment. After all, it isn’t the plaque that performs, it’s the people working and living in the building every day.  If people are opening windows when the air conditioning is on, or turn on the lights for an entire floor because one workspace is too dark, a building designed to have low energy bills and a healthy indoor experience can easily be thrown off track.

Starbucks threw its weight behind the behavior change idea last year when they held a contest to design a better disposable coffee cup. The winner they chose wasn’t a cup at all, it was a clever incentive system that encouraged patrons to bring reusable mugs. “What people really need is an incentive to make the behavior change – a free cup of coffee and a bit of peer pressure,” argued contest winning team Karma Cup. You can make a lot of progress by working with human behavior alone, whether through subtle influence or active education. This is great news since if you wait for technology alone to solve all of our environmental challenges, you’ll waiting for a long time.

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