Information and Feedback Institutional Change Principle
Information alone, however, is unlikely to lead to action. Federal and commercial programs have demonstrated reductions in energy use from delivery of reports to customers. By providing actionable information and feedback that are tailored to specific workplace situations, Federal agencies can help to spur and maintain behaviors that save energy and resources.
However, for sustainability, providing information to create awareness and engagement may be an important component of an action plan. People often have to contend with information overload. Therefore, recipients need to see the information and resources provided as salient and, ideally, useful to their work lives and connected to clear-cut courses of action.
Some of the information and feedback methods Federal agencies use for promoting sustainability include:
- Comparing individual data to group data
- Setting up websites for interactive communication
- Installing meters in workplaces to measure the amount of energy consumed.
Providing information or feedback may be easier than making those items relevant and actionable. Typically, the most effective feedback is provided through actions, not words.
To learn more about the information and feedback principle, see Evidence-Based Background Material Underlying Guidance for Federal Agencies in Implementing Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans Implementing Sustainability: The Institutional-Behavioral Dimension.
The following case studies demonstrate successful applications of the information and feedback behavior change principle.
Data, Feedback, and Awareness Lead to Big Energy Savings: The Navy used monthly energy feedback and staff monitors to reinforce communication and activity, which led to improved routine practices and significant energy savings.
Driving Operational Changes through an Energy Monitoring System: IBM utilized a number of methods, including energy reporting systems, trend analyses, and input from personnel via monthly checklists, to gather data and provide feedback that led to a significant reduction in energy usage at IBM facilities worldwide.
Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans
Learn how the following Federal agencies incorporated the information and feedback principle in their 2011 strategic sustainability performance plans (SSPPs).
U.S. Department of Defense: To monitor and measure the effects of sustainability initiatives, it planned to implement a performance management review process along with a scorecard. The scorecard was to employ a rating system to convey progress in achieving its SSPP's goals.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: It planned to receive quarterly and annual feedback on its multidisciplinary approach to sustainability. The sustainable approach balanced economic and environmental performance from start to finish, and it incorporated costs, schedule, operations, maintenance, and employee considerations.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: On its intranet and public website, the agency was to establish a method of evaluating and accessing progress toward sustainability goals. The plan alluded to the possibility of including a centralized website to serve as a one-stop shop for information on its SSPP. The website would provide a simple mechanism for receiving public comments.
U.S. Department of Education: As part of its effort to integrate sustainability into daily procedures and facilities, it planned to conduct regular internal evaluations of employees to periodically measure progress and receive feedback. Generally, metrics were to be established for baseline and targets and then tracked to measure progress.
U.S. Department of Labor: As a result of research and employee feedback on energy efficiency and reducing energy costs, the agency implemented an after-hours shutdown policy for all personal computers, printers, and monitors. The plan indicated that the policy would undergo a review for effectiveness in the near future.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: It established a procedure for constant input and feedback by gathering data quarterly on water and energy usage as well as data on recycling, solid waste generation, and transportation and fuels. On various of its Open Government website, the agency then was to post information on its progress toward achieving SSPP goals and provide an opportunity for feedback in the form of suggestions, questions, or comments.