Water efficiency in the public sector: The role of social norms

A new primer publication focussing on water efficiency in the public sector and the role of social norms has been published by Kevin Grecksch and Bettina Lange this week.

Water efficiency is a cornerstone of water resources management and public water supply. Yet, typical water efficiency campaigns in England and Wales are aimed at private domestic customers and private businesses. In addition, existing water efficiency campaigns focus on two key drivers of water saving behaviour: technological devices and financial incentives but leave unexplored the potential of social norms to create behavioural commitments to water saving. Water saving behaviour is influenced not just by individual decisions, but social and psychological drivers such as social norms, values, group behaviour and external factors: culture, family behaviour, infrastructure and regulations.

This research focusses on the public sector and social norms, i.e. how can we change water saving behaviour at the workplace where people spend their daytime, thereby contributing to overall water savings. The public sector – schools, university, hospitals, local government – offers a huge potential given its diversity and size. And it could act as a role model for other sectors. The primer is a very practical and informative document aimed at stakeholders in the public sector, regulators and water companies. It introduces the topic theoretically, provides an overview of existing water efficiency campaigns and strategies and it points out nine recommendations or building blocks for a successful water efficiency campaign in the public sector using social norms. This is followed by a practical example for a water efficiency campaign in the public sector using social norms that was co-created with stakeholders from the sector.

The document can be downloaded here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333485728_Water_efficiency_in_the_public_sector_The_role_of_social_norms_PRIMER/download