Environmental Science and Policy
The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that increased signage, shower timers, and educational events would change behavioral patterns in Smith College housing and encourage students to reduce water consumption. Three houses on campus were chosen for this study based on their capacity to meter daily water use. Two houses received educational materials while one did not, and the impacts on water consumption were measured. Data on water use before materials went into houses was compared with water use data after the study was implemented. Students across campus were encouraged to participate in an online survey to measure water use patterns in Smith housing.
The results of this study provided support that educational materials and increased awareness of water use will alter behavioral patterns and encourage students to conserve more water. However, this is contingent upon the presence of an active sustainability representative in each house. Findings from the online surveys also supported the proposed need for increased education and transparency of water consumption at Smith College.
Findings from this study and the online survey support recommendations to bolster the sustainability representative program at the college, providing student representatives with additional resources and requiring more active participation in the program. The survey results also indicate students’ willingness to alter their behavioral patterns to consume less water if the college increases signage and implements technical updates. These findings are significant because they are in accordance with the goals of the Smith Sustainability and Climate Action Management Plan to reduce the college’s environmental impacts over the next 20 years.
©2011 Emily Mailloux
Mailloux, Emily, "Improving Water Conservation in Smith College Housing through Environmental Education" (2011). Class Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.