Infrastructure Institutional Change Principle
Research shows that changes in infrastructure prompt changes in behavior (for better or worse). Federal agencies can modify their infrastructure to promote sustainability-oriented behavior change, ideally in ways that make new behaviors easier and more desirable to follow than existing patterns of behavior. The physical structures, technologies, systems, and processes that constitute the infrastructure of a workplace should be aligned with sustainability goals and desired behavioral changes. For example, a rule requiring double-sided printing necessitates the availability and access to functioning duplex printers.
Modifying infrastructure so that it promotes sustainable behavior change is key for implementing long-term changes. To foster sustainability, an organization can make its physical, technological, system, and procedural infrastructure amenable to energy- and resource-saving behaviors through measures such as:
Procurement systems that provide default or top-choice options that are energy- or resource-efficient
The combination of rules to reduce paper use with easily accessible, well-maintained shared duplex printers
Decisions to install and maintain energy-efficient structures and technologies—such as windows; lighting; appliances; and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems—that make facility users' working lives more comfortable or otherwise better.
For other ideas, see Sustainable Buildings and Campuses.
To learn more about the infrastructure 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 infrastructure principle.
Enabling Sustainable Acquisition by Improving Procurement Systems: The U.S. Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant changed its electronic procurement systems to enable staff to follow policies and achieve sustainable acquisition goals.
Driving Operation Changes through an Energy Monitoring System: IBM used the infrastructure behavior change principle to adjust its operational and facility elements and practices to achieve reductions in energy use.
Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans
Learn how the following Federal agencies applied the infrastructure principle in their 2011 strategic sustainability performance plans (SSPPs).
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: It planned to employ an advanced utility-meter installation infrastructure with the aim of providing a system for collecting, tracking, and reporting monthly data at the facility level. Top-of-the-line meters offered vital data on how and when facilities use energy. This information is crucial for efforts to reduce energy use and costs, and this information was made possible through infrastructure modifications. Also, the agency planned to assess the energy efficiency of its systems, equipment, and lighting.
U.S. Department of Education: It planned to offer distance-learning opportunities for students in rural or remote areas, so they would not have to commute great distances. Also, it planned to explore incorporating provisions for sustainable building design in grants and loans targeted for infrastructure improvements at academic institutions, and to prioritize grants for vocational schools and community colleges offering "green" education programs.