Article

Effects of a behaviour change intervention for Girl Scouts on child and parent energy-saving behaviours

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 16091 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2016.91
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Abstract

Energy education programmes for children are hypothesized to have great potential to save energy. Such interventions are often assumed to impact child and family behaviours. Here, using a cluster-randomized controlled trial with 30 Girl Scout troops in Northern California, we assess the efficacy of two social cognitive theory-based interventions focused on residential and food-and-transportation energy-related behaviours of Girl Scouts and their families. We show that Girl Scouts and parents in troops randomly assigned to the residential energy intervention significantly increased their self-reported residential energy-saving behaviours immediately following the intervention and after more than seven months of follow-up, compared with controls. Girl Scouts in troops randomly assigned to the food-and-transportation energy intervention significantly increased their self-reported food-and-transportation energy-saving behaviours immediately following the intervention, compared with controls, but not at follow-up. The results demonstrate that theory-based, child-focused energy interventions have the potential to increase energy-saving behaviours among both children and their parents.

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Acknowledgements

We thank our data collectors—especially S. Karp, K. Khalil and K. O’Connor—as well as those who helped with data analysis and management—particularly S. Bryson, M. Fujimoto, F. Haydel, A. Mitani and C. Zanocco—and logistics and implementation—principally S. McCarthy and C. Wantanabe. We are grateful to the Girl Scouts of Northern California for their participation, without which this research would not have been possible. In particular, we appreciated the opportunity to work closely with the Girl Scouts and leaders of the participating troops, as well as K. Miller and J. Fahy. Funding for this work was provided by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-e) Program (Grant no. DE-AR0000018), California Energy Commission (Grant no. PIR-10-054), the Child Health Research Institute at Stanford University, and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University. REDCap is supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health (Grant no. UL1 RR025744). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of any funders.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Sociology, School of Public Policy, Oregon State University, 300B Gilkey Hall, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA

    • Hilary Boudet
  2. Graduate School of Education and Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, 485 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, California 94305-3096, USA

    • Nicole M. Ardoin
  3. Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute, Graduate School of Education and Solutions Science Lab, School of Medicine, Stanford University, 1265 Welch Road, X1C35, Stanford, California 94305-5415, USA

    • June Flora
  4. Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University, 473 Via Ortega, Room 385, Stanford, California 94305-4206, USA

    • K. Carrie Armel
  5. Department of Medicine, Quantitative Sciences Unit, School of Medicine, Stanford University, 1070 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA

    • Manisha Desai
  6. Stanford Solutions Science Lab, Department of Pediatrics and Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University, 1265 Welch Road, X129, Stanford, California 94305-5415, USA

    • Thomas N. Robinson

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Contributions

N.M.A., K.C.A. and T.N.R. secured project funding. H.B., N.M.A., J.F., K.C.A. and T.N.R. designed the study and associated interventions. H.B. recruited participants and oversaw implementation of the interventions and data collection. H.B., J.F., M.D. and T.N.R. analysed the data. H.B. and J.F. drafted the manuscript; N.M.A., K.C.A., M.D. and T.N.R. edited the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hilary Boudet.

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Tables 1–7, Supplementary Notes 1–4, Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary References.