University of Vermont

Snowy Day

CBSM @ 2012 Behavior Energy & Climate Change Conference

by Mieko A. Ozeki, M.S., A.L.M, Former Sustainability Projects Coordinator

Today, is the first of four days at the 2012 Behavior Energy and Climate Change Conference which focuses on "understanding individual and organizational behavior and decision-making related to energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and sustainability."  Sustainability Fellow Tarah Rowse and I arrived in Sacramento, CA the night before so we could attend a pre-conference workshop led by Doug McKenzie-Mohr on Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM). Some of our Fellows (Steve, Anna, and Jedd) have attended the full two-day CBSM workshops before; Tarah and I were in for a one day intensive. 

This is a different conference outside the usual campus sustainability conferences I go to during the year, but it is completely relevant to what we do at UVM. Our Eco-Reps program has been doing CBSM projects on campus for the past couple of years. My interest in this workshop and this conference is to gather some ideas, meet new resource people, and to figure ways I can better support CBSM projects on campus. 

Doug McKenzie-Mohr facilitating the CBSM Workshop.

At least 70 people were in attendance at this workshop. There was a mix of program managers/coordinators from different environmental sectors and a handful of social scientists. The CBSM workshop focused on a 5-step process developing programs targeted to change behaviors and reduce environmental impacts:

  1. Selecting behaviors
  2. Identifying barriers and benefits
  3. Developing strategies
  4. Piloting 
  5. Broad-scale implementation

CBSM is a linear process that acknowledges the complexities to behavior change. McKenzie-Mohr spent a significant amount of time focusing the group on the first three steps. The reason he does this is to remind implementers to focus on singular behaviors and not rush into trying to change multiple behaviors. The key to success with CBSM programs is to select a behavior (step 1) and thoroughly identify the barriers and benefits (step 2) to changing a behavior before developing (step 3) and piloting (step 4) a strategy. Broad-scale implementation (step 5) is last cause we need to research, try out, check, and try new strategies before implementing at a larger scale. 

"Don't confuse your personal reasons are everyone else's concerns." This point stood out to me because all too often people dive into creating programs because from the individual standpoint tend to think they know best for others. Case after case that was presented to us by McKenzie-Mohr showed the importance of the first two steps.

This session was a wonderful prelude to the rest of the conference week.