Effective or ephemeral? the role of energy information dashboards in changing occupant energy behaviors

Stephanie N. Timm, Brian M. Deal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building energy use research has largely been focused on technological performance despite growing evidence that human behavior has an equally significant role (Sovacool, 2014) [34]. This paper aims to address this by examining how the role of real-time information affects building occupant attitudes and behaviors toward energy use. Four buildings located on four different community college campuses in Illinois were outfitted with a centrally located graphic display of the building's real-time energy use (an energy dashboard) and implemented a 6-week energy behavior change campaign. Intervention efficacy was tested with an online survey that was distributed to each campus population before and after the intervention. Pre-post analysis, comparison between exposed and unexposed populations, and cross-campus comparisons were then conducted. Our findings show that although the interventions resulted in significant energy savings (7-10% in electricity and 50% decrease in natural gas), differences in student and faculty/staff energy attitudes or behaviors proved insignificant. Post-intervention longitudinal interviews with building facility managers, however, showed that energy dashboards improved their ability to detect system faults that led to their implementation of energy-saving building adjustments. While energy dashboards can be effective at improving facility management approaches, they are less useful for measurably affecting occupant attitudes and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Behavior change
  • Campaign
  • Dashboard
  • Energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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