Social Feasibility of Energy-Efficiency Retrofits and Educational Campaigns for Sustainable Energy Use in Pre-existing College Residence Halls

EPA Grant Number: SU833515
Title: Social Feasibility of Energy-Efficiency Retrofits and Educational Campaigns for Sustainable Energy Use in Pre-existing College Residence Halls
Investigators: Neff, Rob , McConnell, Virginia D.
Institution: University of Maryland - Baltimore
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: June 1, 2008 through May 30, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Awards , Sustainability


While technologies and management techniques for energy conservation in new and existing construction are well known, there has been limited (but growing) implementation on college campuses, particularly in college dorms. This study will identify energy conservation measures that are acceptable to student residents, and measure the degree to which educational campaigns can make various conservation efforts more palatable to residents of college dorms and impact individual behavior. The UMBC Campus Sustainability Research will identify three dormitories that are similar in size and energy use. A set of energy savings modifications that do not involve structural changes to the buildings will be made to two of the three the buildings. These will include such changes as vending misers and snack machine misers, programmable digital thermostats, modifications to hot water and building heating and cooling temperatures, and passive infrared light sensors. Dorm A will receive just these energy-efficiency modifications, and the resident students will not be informed about the modifications. Dorm B will receive the energy-efficiency modifications as well as educational materials and discussions about the problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use as well as specific changes made to the dorms. Dorm C will serve as a control, and receive no changes and no education. This design will allow us to isolate the effects of energy-efficiency modifications and energy-conservation education on energy consumption while studying both simultaneously.

We will track energy use in all three dorms on a monthly basis, and will evaluate the energy use both before and after energy-efficiency and educational programs have been implemented. Further, a survey will be used to evaluate dorm occupants’ perceptions and attitudes towards energy education and energy-efficiency measures. Workshops will be held upon completion of the project to verify our results and to receive open-ended feedback on the project.

The energy education program developed during the study could be used as a model for the entire university, and would be modified according to surveyed students’ comments and suggestions. Upon the model’s completion, it could be applied to the UMBC campus as well as other schools that might have similar characteristics.

Supplemental Keywords:

Conservation, Survey, Attitudes, Education, University Dormitories,, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere