Facebook and a polar bear may persuade people to pare down their energy use The average American consumes 12.5 times the energy of the average citizen of Africa or Asia. With approximately 300 million citizens, that adds up to 2 billion metric tons of CO2, or just over a 3rd of the total waste produced across all sectors of the U.S. economy. Of the other two thirds, much is produced as a by product of the process of meeting the needs of individuals. A reduction in energy use will require a combination of legislation, innovation, and changing lifestyles. The StepGreen team draws from social science research, ubicomp, decision sciences, and environmental engineering to explore the use of of social technologies in encouraging behavior change. This talk covers several projects which explore issues such user acceptance of different iconography (such as an animated polar bear or tree) and language (such as how environmental language differs across ethnic groups); the impact of showing information about user energy savings on their MySpace page on user behavior; and user experiences with a mobile phone that automates sensing of transportation behavior and reports back.
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