by Jacob Talbot
Behavioral approaches to energy efficiency have gained increasing acceptance over the past several years. Policymakers and regulators now incorporate behavioral techniques into their toolkits and private enterprises such as Opower and Tendril have achieved success in deploying for-profit behavior change programs. Thus far, these behavior change initiatives, as well as most research on behavior change strategies, have focused on influencing the behavior of people in their homes. There are legitimate reasons for this emphasis, but now with substantial experience in deploying behavioral programs in domestic settings, there is new attention toward using behavior change techniques to influence energy consumption in commercial buildings.
This new interest is well founded. Commercial buildings account for about a fifth of all energy use in the U.S. as well as a large portion of the waking hours during which people make decisions about how to use energy. Not only is the magnitude of energy use large, but also recent estimates by E Source place energy waste in U.S. businesses at a $60 billion annual cost.
In light of this opportunity for energy savings, the commercial buildings sector has long been a target of energy efficiency rebate programs, but these programs have largely ignored occupant behavior, in part because there are unique challenges to addressing behavior in commercial settings. For example, commercial buildings are far more heterogeneous than homes, so it is difficult to concretely identify which behaviors will be most impactful in a given building without seeing the equipment in situ. After all, how much do the energy loads in your local corner store resemble those of the coffee shop across the street? These differences make it challenging to scale behavioral interventions. Continue reading
By Kelsea Ballantyne
Professor Ravi Anupindi / Photo credit: Kelsea Ballantyne
When I joined the U of M Presidents Committee for Labor Standards and Human Rights last year, I had no idea how much it would open my mind to the power universities have to transform global supply-chains.
Helping to organize the Symposium on Global Human Rights & Labor Standards (commemorating the 15th year of the committee), brought me even more awareness of this enormous potential as well as a sense of the huge responsibility we bore to ensure that this event would push conversations to action. I knew the market for university branded goods was large, but I had no idea that the market for collegiate licensed merchandise was worth more than $4.5 billion last year.
Following U-M President Schlissel’s opening remarks, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, presented his argument for the role of American Universities in a globalized world citing university endowments ($450 billion dollars), food service, construction of new buildings, etc. “Each year, American colleges and universities spend hundreds of billions of dollars on commercial contracts for goods and services.” Continue reading
Remarks to the Erb Class of 2017, By Andy Hoffman
Community Day, Class of 2017 and 2016 mid-year admits
One of the benefits of being a professor is that we forget that we are aging. Each year, we are met by a fresh crop of new students that are always the same age. So, in effect, we are constantly surrounded by a group of people that never grow old. But of course we are aging. I can see things as they have evolved while you, the new students, see everything as if it were new. I envy your perspective.
I have been reflecting on this passage of time as I enter my last year as Faculty Director of the Erb Institute. Though my five-year term ends in September 2015, I will still stay involved with the institute and continue to work on sustainability research, education and outreach. But the pending end of my term as Faculty Director marks a significant point in our history that I think you will benefit from knowing, especially on this occasion of “Community Day” as you mark the beginning of a new school year. Continue reading
by Theresa Miranda
Photo: Courtesy of “The Rawanda Focus” (focus.rw/wp/)
How will it be possible to meet the needs of the 1.4 billion people who lack access to electricity? One of the most common arguments is that developing countries will leap-frog developed countries to implement cutting edge technology just as they did in eschewing landlines in favor of mobile phones. New technologies emerge, costs drop, and developing countries take advantage of the R&D money spent by developed countries, bypassing traditional costly centralized infrastructure solutions in favor of light-weight decentralized solutions.
I espoused that view on more than one occasion before spending twelve weeks on the ground in Rwanda, where I worked with Nuru Energy, a company that provides human- and solar-powered LED lighting and mobile phone recharging to rural villagers who lack access to electricity. It became clear that the argument ignores some fundamental differences between phones and lights including:
- The absence of substitutes in the case of phones
- The difference between lighting needs in developed and developing countries
- The ability to easily connect the product with meaningful benefits
Yet, it is precisely these differences that make access to lighting a much bigger challenge than mobile phone adoption. Continue reading
By Marianna Kerppola
As I entered the classroom, 26 girls between the ages of 10 and 18 chanted: “Welcome to More Than Me Academy. We are the girls of Power class, What is your name?” I answered “Marianna” and watched their charismatic teacher prompt the class to spell out my name phonetically as my heart melted. More Than Me (MTM) Academy is a girls school in Monrovia, Liberia founded in September 2013. MTM enrolls 125 girls from a slum called West Point, a neighborhood known to have the highest rates of child prostitution in the country. MTM works towards making sure that “education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia.” Because of the 14 year civil war in Liberia, education has lagged for all children — but girls in particular. Most of the girls’ parents are illiterate, never having a chance to go to school while Charles Taylor pummeled the country. As a result, these families are stuck in a cycle of poverty, without the support of organizations, like MTM. Continue reading
by Matthew Gacioch
Set high on the sixth floor of Ross Business School, on August 18th a group of fifteen Erb alumni, External Advisory Board members, and staffers collected for the Ann Arbor Alumni Roadshow. Overlooking the sun-washed city below, the gathering fell on one of those days towards the end of the season that makes you realize just how much we’ll all be missing summer soon.
The Ann Arbor Roadshow was the sixth and final gathering in a series of alumni engagement events conducted by the Erb Institute across the country, as we work to continue developing our upcoming five-year plan. Led by Erb Managing Director Terry Nelidov and Erb Faculty Director Andy Hoffman, the discussion was stimulated by three questions: What are the current sustainability trends in business? How can management educators respond in addressing sustainability? What should be Erb’s unique contribution within management education?
The conversation began with the prompt that there must be a focus on seeing topics of sustainability as opportunities rather than problems. This distinction can make all the difference in promoting the necessary adjustment within corporate sustainability strategy from being reactive to becoming proactive, which opens the door to thriving in business. That is, after all, one of the Erb Institute’s core motivations. Continue reading
by Terry Nelidov and Dominique Abed, with Michelle Lin
Terry and Dom met with Laura Flanigan (Erb ‘06), Rosemary Lapka and Michelle Lin (both Erb ‘12) on a Monday night in August at the “Little Goat Diner” (Thanks Michelle, for the recommendation!)–a bustling Chicago landmark with a quirky but tasty menu started by Stephanie Izard, a Top Chef winner who is, incidentally, also a U-M grad. Fortunately, Rosemary came prepared with both U-M and Erb flags (see photos below). Continue reading
by Emma Wendt
Set in the lovely home of Priyanka Bandyopadhyay ‘09, our July 21, 2014 Seattle Erb Roadshow was an especially lively and intellectually challenging discussion — what I love best about the Erb community.
Our group included nine alumni, ranging from Class of 2000 to 2014, plus two current students, in town for summer internships. (Huge props to the Seattle crew for 100% attendance among those who registered!) Several of the topics discussed had emerged in other Roadshows, such as the relative importance of technical versus interpersonal skills, as well as particular topical areas like water quality and supply chains.
What stood out to me here, though, was the question around what role Erbers can and should take on as a sustainability change agent. While some had obviously Erb-related jobs, many others were taking a more traditional career path, especially the newer grads — and that’s really ok. To make significant sustainability gains, Erb needs to influence across roles, organizations and sectors. Occasionally, this is as a Chief Sustainability Officer. More likely, it will be by equipping real estate developers with green building technologies or helping logistics companies to radically shift how they deliver products and services. Continue reading