BECC Day 1 Report

This year's rendition of the Behavior, Energy & Climate Change conference, in sunny and balmy Sacramento, is off to a solid start. Here's what's sticking for me...

Arizona State University Professor Robert Cialdini identifies two kinds of social norms: descriptive norms (what people commonly do) and injunctive norms (what people commonly approve/disapprove; what ought to be).

Communicators often pit these two kinds of norms against each other, he says. He aired an old PSA, "The Crying Indian," to illustrate his point (, suggesting that the spot unintentionally portrayed littering as common behavior.

Chris Corcoran of energy behavior-change consultant OPOWER ( defines conservation as using less by cutting back and efficiency as using less by permanently eliminating waste (unnecessary and excessive use). In one study, about 81% of homeowners left their air conditioning on all day while at work. Corcoran reports that 21% of household energy is wasted, equal to about about $30 billion daily. Now, there's opportunity.

In a session on Community-Based Social Marketing, VEIC consultant Paul Markowitz reported on the “Vermont Community Energy Mobilization Project,” which relies on volunteers to make home energy visits and advise their neighbors on all manner of energy savings. So far, over two years, the program has yielded savings of 598 MWH from over 1200 home visits.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Energy's Kathleen Hogan shared a progress report that included a new tool DOE is developing called the Home Energy Score (homeenergyscore) that will allow homeowners to compare the efficiency of their home with other similar homes in their region of the country. My guess is that this will soon become an important tool for home buyers and sellers.