Enabling energy conservation through effective decision aids

By Shahzeen Z. Attari and Deepak Rajagopal

Why don’t people adopt energy efficient appliances and curtail their behaviors to decrease energy use? People may not know which behaviors are truly effective and may be insufficiently motivated to change their behaviors. We focus on one area of this problem by first analyzing existing decision aids, tools available to help users make effective decisions. We explore EPA’s Energy Star program, DoE’s EERE calculators, and LBNL’s Home Energy Saver tool. We highlight their strengths and limitations and propose a framework to expand the functionality and uptake of the information through such aids. We suggest improvements along two broad areas. One area concerns the analytic capabilities and the information content of the decision aid, which focuses on (1) multiple goals and constraints, (2) hidden costs, and (3) heterogeneity in user characteristics. The other pertains to the framing so that users can easily process information through decision architecture by limiting choice overload and incorporating smart default options.

Continue Reading

Navigating a Geography of Sustainability Worldviews: A Developmental Map

By Abigail Lynam

Given the importance of understanding and learning to work effectively with a diversity of perspectives and values in the sustainability field, this article offers a developmental map of the worldviews of sustainability. It includes an introduction to developmental theory and research, an overview of the diversity of worldviews, how they differ and relate to one another and to sustainability practice and leadership, and how these worldviews develop over time. A developmental perspective suggests that every sustainability practitioner/educator/leader has a worldview that is made up of the beliefs that person holds and their definition for sustainability emerges out of those beliefs. Moreover, there are consistent patterns observed cross-culturally in the ways that these worldviews develop. Understanding and learning to work with the diversity of perspectives and their developmental trajectory is vitally important for sustainability education and leadership in that it helps us to design curriculum, and sustainability campaigns, policy and actions in ways that are more holistic, include a diversity of worldviews, address conflict between them and contribute to the development of the worldviews themselves.

Continue Reading