Motivating Others To Design Net Zero

Sure, you can make sure you turn out the lights when you leave the room, and turn the thermostat down at night. But a researcher from Clemson University in South Carolina, Leidy Klotz, believes that the real key to increased energy efficiency in the nation at large is getting through to the people who design buildings.

Klotz’ research studies how building designers choose the techniques they employ in energy-efficient design. His goal is to see what it will take to get the architects and builders of both today and tomorrow to focus on creating net-zero retrofits and new construction, moving buildings that generate as much energy as they consume into the mainstream.

Lady Bird Johnson Middle School

image via Irving ISD

Funded by a $400,000, multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development program, Klotz’s research brings together the fields of both architecture and psychology in an effort to understand why building designers make the types of decisions they do. Klotz’ work relies on psychological concepts like “choice architecture,” “cognitive bias” and “irrationality,” and has incorporated collaboration with undergraduate students from Clemson’s psychology department as well as engineering students.   

”Buildings use more energy than the whole transportation sector,” Klotz said, in a statement. “And while you and I can turn out the lights to save electricity, most of the really influential energy decisions are made by the people who design the buildings in the first place.” He goes on to note that If there are irrationalities in the decision-making process of those designers, it is important to understand and address them.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.