Perception Management to Change the World.


I was thinking about perception management in the way of mind-shift assistance. Not in the evil, manipulate the politicos and the populace with disinformation crafting, as in the film “Wag the Dog” or in the David Baldacci book, “The Whole Truth”, but in a way of being mindful of how we create connections and underline co-benefits.

For fun – “Wag the Dog” trailer.

For example, not much in our processes helps users understand their building energy use. We could manage perceptions and make the needed connections most readily in the real estate realm by making energy use data and water use data part of every sale, and this would go a long way to making change. Picture a building nutrition label. This has been in discussion for a while and has taken root at least in building materials, using the Health Product Declaration process, encouraging and supporting transparency about the ingredients in building materials. It has gained ground with Energy Star appliances, and Water Sense plumbing fixtures. Now we need to ramp up the education and ready-information on full buildings and neighborhoods (think the walk-ability score) for the realtors and appraisers. And perhaps we need to reach out to the glossy publications to help them introduce this sensibility to the masses. If every write-up on any apartment included a quick list of the sustainable features…we could change the world!

Let’s take it another step, how about when someone leases a building, even if the monthly rent includes the heat, water and electricity, the usage data is shared as a faux bill? Yes, many won’t look at it. Some will. And “some” is a vast improvement.

It also comes down to terms we use.  “Conservation” smacks of having foot rugs near every seat in a home. I see this as comfy, but many see this as deprivation. So the word “efficiency” is a bit better. But how about moving to our real goal, and that is optimization. Optimal energy use, optimal comfort, optimal usability, optimal budget management. Nature isn’t efficient, it optimizes systems. Maybe we start to talk about user comfort more, instead of purely the supply side management inherent in HVAC design. What is the point anyway? We build buildings for the users, right?

Instead of user engagement burdening the user, how about we make sure we understand it as a right? Each building user should have the right to affect the energy use in the space they occupy. They are in control. Therefore, we need to design systems in a way to support some influence of the individual user, and provide the right feedback loops and education, and we have to understand that not everyone will engage. But many will.

Remember, there is no one solution, no simple education system, and not one right way to fix the problem overall. It will take many approaches, many different touch points, many different delivery methods in order to create the consistent and undeniable background knowledge that underpins each decisions with the question “How does this effect my energy and water use?” And it all begins with an understanding of communication and a healthy sprinkling of perception management.

Communicate, and be greener,




  Be the first to like this post (no login required)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

3 + 1 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.