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Transition experiments under the shower: energy-saving campaigns with formal social groups

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Seidl Roman, Stauffacher Michael, Tomic Uros, Moser Corinne,
Project Using formal social groups to promote energy sufficient behaviour in cities
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Editor , Blumer Yann
Title of proceedings The 13th Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference: hopefullNESS 2017


Strategic efforts on various levels to steer transition dynamics depend on the collaboration and commitment of various actors. On a local level, cities in particular may serve as change agents to influence the energy-related behaviour and decision making of their citizens. For instance, citizens may initiate or promote campaigns that aim to change energy-relevant routines and purchasing behaviour. While there are many innovative and successful ideas for energy-saving campaigns, these often only reach a small portion of the population that is already aware of the issue and engaged in sustainable behaviours and practices. Moreover, it is often not ensured that the interventions’ effects will be long lasting. Thus, one key question is how to reach a broader public and boost the impact of an energy-saving campaign. Together with the administration of a Swiss city that serves as a transition lab, we designed a field experiment at a public swimming pool. The swimming pool was recently refurbished, and new, low flow shower heads were installed to save water and energy. The study design includes a campaign to raise awareness for the water-energy nexus (the link between warm water provision and energy). Moreover, the performance of the new shower heads and shower experience were evaluated. In our study, we also addressed the question of whether a city’s intervention has a distinguished effect on groups versus individuals and whether groups interact more to exchange opinions about the campaign. Results show that group members actually exchange more than individuals, but the content of this opinion exchange is not necessarily positive.