Resident Engagement and Energy Behavior Assessment through Mobile Phone Technology (2015-2016)

This project team designed and implemented an on-campus residential energy-usage intervention. After monitoring student dormitory usage for two weeks, participants were entered into either an individual or team competition for the greatest energy-usage reduction.

While intervention techniques for behavioral energy efficiency in residential settings have been well studies and developed, residences on university campuses present unique challenges because of students’ lack of financial responsibility for their energy use. Students need to be motivated to conserve energy through methods other than utility bill savings. Thus the team explored how social and individual competition can drive students to conserve.

The team spent the fall semester conducting a literature review and planning study logistics. Team members met with experts from the Museum of Life and Science and RTI, revised their plans according to these insights, and sought IRB approval for the study. In the spring, the team conducted the study in several phases, from plug monitor installation and baseline monitoring to the competition period to the post-intervention survey. Study participants were each given a Kill-A-Watt plug monitor. They were required to take photos of the monitor screens and upload them every day to a mobile data collection app. During the competition period, participants installed TeamSnap to communicate with their fellow team members and a research coordinator.


Fall 2015 – Spring 2016

Team Outcomes

Shaping Energy Use with a Competition Intervention

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Council 

Meet the Members of the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council (2016-17)

Tara Davis, Mechanical Engineering ’18


I gained a sense of responsibility by being a member of the team. If something falls through, I have to step up! I learned how to preempt problems and improvise. And through the literature review I learned a lot about energy use habits and about social science. -Tara Davis

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Kyle Bradbury, Energy Initiative
Laura Richman, Trinity - Psychology & Neuroscience*
Brian Southwell, Duke University Energy Initiative*

Graduate Team Members

Jennifer Cole, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
Xinyuan Wen, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment

Undergraduate Team Members

Douglas Cohen
Tara Davis, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
Clement Lee, Economics (AB)
Bengisu Pay
Zeren (Jimmy) Zhang, Computer Science (BS)

Community Team Members

Elizabeth Fleming, Museum of Life and Science
Robert Furberg, RTI International Center for Data Science
Troy Livingston, Museum of Life and Science
Beck Tench, Museum of Life and Science

* denotes team leader


Completed, Archived