Engaging People, Successfully

Minnesota Green CommunitiesAt Minnesota Green Communities, we’ve been hearing more and more frequent requests for assistance in successfully engaging residents in sustainability living.  Building owners know they – and residents – won’t see the full energy and water efficiency benefits or the health benefits of building green if the residents aren’t on board, too. 

I saw Christie Manning present a workshop of basic social psychology principles that highlighted clear tips on how to motivate sustainable behavior at the 2011 Duluth Energy Design Conference based on her publication, The Psychology of Sustainable Behavior.  When you can get a room full of builders excited about and discussing psychology, you know you’ve got a hit.

So, with Minnesota Green Communities, I organized a workshop called “Engaging Residents in Sustainable Living.” It was was so popular we repeated it a second time, and may do it again.  The day starts with Christie’s presentation, is followed by a Resident Engagement Training in a Box module, and finally the whole seminar then applies the principles Christie presented to evaluating the resident training in a discussion.

My favorite tips?

  • Don’t talk about the environment.  (Talk about clean water or clean air.)
  • Change social norms.  (People do what other people do – tricky with sustainability because people can’t see where you set your thermostat, or whether you bike rather than drive.)
  • Make hidden information visible.  (She carries her bike helmet around, visibly, so people know how she travels.)

But really, the whole report is worth a read, and if you get a chance to see her, go!