U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Federal Energy Management Program
Social Network and Communications Institutional Change Principle
Federal agencies can use social networks and communications to spark and reinforce behavior change for meeting sustainability goals. This principle is based on research findings showing that people and institutions often are strongly influenced by the behaviors and expectations of others.
The social network and communications behavior change principle involves informing staff about others' sustainability efforts, especially those that are successful. Methods for social networking and communicating include many internal or external media channels, such as websites, blogs, newsletters, and emails.
To learn more about the social network and communications 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 social network and communications principle by Federal agencies.
Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans
Several 2011 strategic sustainability performance plans (SSPPs) reflect the social network and communications principle. Examples are listed below.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD): Internal communications included a semi-annual progress report and a midyear review report. External communications included the media; DoD Sustainability website; DoD Energy, Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Network and Information Exchange; seminars; workshops; conferences; and external forums.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Communications and networking included the establishment of a Sustainability Efficiency Task Force (SETF), which involved professionals from outside the government. SETF recommendations were incorporated into the agency's SSPP.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Internal communications and networking included messaging, steering groups, various work groups, a Web portal, fact sheets, posters, and pamphlets. External communications and networking included interagency work groups, panels, online collaboration, and literature reviews to be shared with the public.
U.S. Department of Education: Internal communications and networking included meetings, progress reports, newsletters, intranet, bulletin board postings and announcements, and lobby displays.
U.S. Department of Transportation: Internal communications included emails, electronic newsletters, webinars, training modules, briefings, and mechanisms for sending and receiving sustainability-relevant messages to and from employees.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Internal communications included using its intranet for information sharing among employees. External communications included the Greening EPA website, which publicizes annual progress toward meeting sustainability requirements.