UNI Student Energy! Project

This project emphasizes the psychology of behavior change to encourage a college-aged audience to:
  • develop personal awareness of reasons to change energy use behaviors and
  • determine a personal plan for changing such energy use behaviors

Philosophy & Guiding Principles

  • University students are learning to live in their own residences and are at a critical age in developing lifelong attitudes and behaviors toward energy efficiency and conservation to capture the economic and environmental benefits.
  • Research indicates that a gap exists in students' energy education. This project seeks to begin closing that gap in students' energy efficiency education. College students were surveyed in several UNI classes to determine their knowledge of environmental awareness issues and education. Most students surveyed said they learned about recycling in grade school and thought that was the main way to make a difference. They did not have much environmental awareness education in junior or senior high or college. Educating for environmental/energy awareness needs to continue throughout students' school years. It cannot stop with elementary school.
  • Community Based Social Marketing concepts from Douglas McKenzie-Mohr are used as a resource. However, this project goes a step further by (1) asking participants to do their own investigations and make their own decisions about the need to reduce energy, and (2) asking participants to develop their own plan of action and ways to change their energy use behaviors.
  • These project investigations revealed how students think about nature and environmental questions. Once the research indicates what people are thinking about an issue, one can take a rational approach to educating people about needed changes such as global climate change or energy use. To determine participants' changes in attitudes and behaviors toward energy use, we used the following technique. A pre- and post-survey were given and groups of student volunteers or individual students were interviewed to learn more about students' perceptions of nature and the environment. The findings indicated that people's conceptions of environmental problems often differ from those of scientists. Consequently, careful attention to conceptions is important in communicating with and influencing energy users.