Recently published research indicates that sustainable buildings may encourage more environmental behavior among their occupants.
In a project funded by a Discovery Grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia studied whether people are more likely to correctly choose the proper disposal bin (garbage, compost, recycling) in a building designed with sustainability in mind compared to a building that was not.
The findings: being in an environmentally focused building leads both to feeling and behaving in a more environmentally conscious manner. The researchers also suggest the opportunity for a new line of research that bridges psychology, design, and policy-making in an attempt to understand how the human environment can be designed and used as a subtle yet powerful tool to encourage and achieve aggregate pro-environmental behavior. “With urbanization rapidly increasingly globally, the design of new sustainable infrastructure can be a remarkable tool for creating new sustainable norms that may be essential to elicit sustainable behaviors.”
These findings, if confirmed, suggest that businesses that are seeking to achieve more environmentally responsible behavior, whether in disposal of waste, reducing energy and water consumption, or purchasing greener products, may do well to position the activities in more sustainable buildings. This would seem to be a useful incentive for greener public, commercial, and industrial buildings.
The complete article is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0053856#authcontrib