Investigation of the impact of information on energy consumption at a tertiary institution

Malan, Madeleine (2014-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Due to rising energy costs, there is a growing need to reduce energy consumption (limiting greenhouse gas emissions) and reduce electricity demand (as supply capacity is not keeping up with the increased demand), and their resulting financial impact. This research study investigated the management and reporting of energy consumption at the Stellenbosch University (SU). When considering the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environment), the impact of energy usage is high on both financial and natural resources. The research focused on the impact of regular feedback encouraging behavioural change to enable saving of the energy resource, namely electricity, that is becoming more scarce and costly. The interview results correlated with various studies proving that the context and frequency of updated energy consumption information influence behaviour. Peer networks and pressure also contribute towards an energy-saving attitude. Certain barriers to energy conservation were identified; these include lack of control experienced by the Faculty Managers over equipment installed, as well as a shortage of capital funding. The main obstacles at the residences are lack of upgrading capital, inadequate feedback relating to energy consumption and improper enforcement of policies regarding the usage of certain equipment in dormitory rooms. Certain limitations of the study, for example the number of energy meters, made it difficult to prove beyond doubt to what extent feedback influenced the reduced energy consumption. Information campaigns ran parallel with technological interventions, making it difficult to distinguish the impact of each separately. However, it was established that the use of feedback alone would not achieve energy savings to the desired extent. In conclusion, regular feedback creates awareness, which in turn contributes towards a more energy-conscious culture.

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