Nudging – A Way to Encourage Public Tenants to More Sustainable Behaviour? : A study on how public landlords can make the sustainable choice easier

Bachelor thesis English OPEN
Haglund, Albin (2017)
  • Publisher: KTH, Fastigheter och byggande
  • Subject: Nudging | Sustainability | Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology | Miljöanalys och bygginformationsteknik

The public sector owns and manages approximately 90 million square meters of premises. One of the toughest challenges today is managing both climate-friendly and energy efficient buildings. For the landlords who facilitate these properties to reach national targets by 2020, they will need well thought out strategies. New technology and installations are not enough. Tenants also have to change their behaviour. A relatively new way to influence behaviour without changing values of people is nudging. The term nudging was coined by researchers Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Situations are designed to encourage individuals to choose an individual and society-beneficial alternative. Nudging can be used to help people make choices that are better for the environment and their overall health. To be considered as a nudge the action, per the definition, does not allow the forbidding of options or change of economic incentives. Hence, it respects people’s freedom of choice. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how nudging methods impact public tenants’ daily energy consumption. This is explored by looking into what work has been done based on the nudging toolbox; (1) simplification and framing of information, (2) changes to the physical environment, (3) changes to the default option, and (4) the use of social norms. Can nudging be a way to encourage public tenants to behave more sustainable? The thesis studies how three public landlords work with influencing behaviour to reduced energy consumption and as well as their view on nudging as a strategy. Six interviews were conducted, three with three different public landlords and three with one tenant representative from each landlord. To be able to introduce sufficient behavioural actions or nudges, consideration must be given to the organisational context. All landlords gave examples of the challenges facing their buildings such as staffed facilities and technical systems running around the clock, patient security, vandalism and historical heritage. All respondents had a positive attitude towards nudging but only one of the tenant representatives was familiar with the term since before. The possibilities for the landlords to work with nudging must be considered as favourable and that some of the already implemented measures could classify as nudging. Research shows that nudging works best as an enhancement of other measures, therefore, more research is still needed to investigate how effective nudging is to affect tenants’ energy consumption.
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