Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.55
Liaison Susan Powers
Submission Date Feb. 22, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Clarkson University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Susan Powers
Assoc. Dir. Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students (i.e. an assessment focused on student knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges)?:

Which of the following best describes the literacy assessment? The assessment is administered to::
A subset of students or a sample that may not be representative of the predominant student body

Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
Pre- and post-assessment to the same cohort or to representative samples in both a pre- and post-test

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):
A sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

Knowledge Questions from Smart Housing Research Project. (note - this survey also assesses emotions, attitudes and behavior)
1. The amount of electrical energy (electricity) we use is measured in units called
2. The amount of energy consumed by an electrical appliance is equal to the power rating of the appliance (watts or kilowatts)...
3. This raw material is used to make many manufactured products:
4. Scientists say that the single fastest and most cost-effective way to address our energy needs is to...
5. Which of the following choices uses the most energy in the average American home in one year?
6. Which of the following choices uses the least energy in the average American home in one year?
7. More of the electricity produced in the United States comes from this resource than others:
8. Many scientists say that the Earth's average temperature is increasing. One important cause of this change is...

A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:

The Smart Housing Project uses a combination of real-time energy feedback (messaging, wall screens, and internet dashboards) with resource use education and motivational messaging to help Clarkson students reduce their energy and resource consumption. With support from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), IBM, BuildLab, and FLIR Corporation, this project can contribute to reduced energy, water, and heating use. A key component is the use of survey work to derive baseline environemtnal attitudes. This survey includes several critical survey questions sets that measure pro-environmental behavior, response to authoritarianism, empathy towards the environment, and several others.

A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :

Students receive assignment to smart housing through a lottery. They are asked to respond to the survey early in the semester. They take part in focus groups in the later half of the semester.
The survey is administered to all students living in the four residential buildings in this project in September (pre-assessment). A post test to the same group is administered in April of the same academic year. The post test includes all of the same questions with a few additional evaluation questions. This survey has been administered to new student cohorts each year since 2013.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:

This is a quasi-experimental protocol that measures results over a 4 month semester. The project has seen as much as a 20% decrease in hot water and electricity use between intervention and control groups. Detailed analysis is available via the following citations:
1. L. Legault, S. Bird, S.E. Powers, A.K. Sherman, A. Schay, D. Hou, K. Janoyan, Impact of a Motivational Intervention and Interactive Feedback on Electricity and Water Consumption: A Smart Housing Field Experiment, Environment and Behavior. (2018) 27. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518811433. 2. S. Bird, L. Legault, Feedback and Behavioral Intervention in Residential Energy and Resource Use: A Review, Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports. 5 (2018) 116–126. doi:10.1007/s40518-018-0106-8. 3. A.K. Sherman, A.J. Rowe, S. Bird, S. Powers, L. Legault, Motivational Orientation Explains the Link between Political Ideology and Proenvironmental Behavior, Ecopsychology. 8 (2016) 239–249. doi:10.1089/eco.2016.0029. 4. D. Hou, S. Bird, K. Janoyan, L. Legault, S.E. Powers, Predictive Building Energy Modeling for Efficiency Improvements in HVAC and DHW, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Albany, NY, 2016. 5. S. Bird, D. Hou, K. Janoyan, L. Legault, S.E. Powers, L. Fox, A. Rowe, A. Schay, A.K. Sherman, Clean Energy and Smart Student Housing: Motivational Interventions for Improved Energy Efficiency in University Housing, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Albany, NY, 2016.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:


This is the same assessment that we refer to in EN-6 for "Assessing Sustainability Culture." This holistic survey assesses both sustainability culture and sustainability literacy. Our Smart Housing Project is a large effort on campus as you can see from the published results from the project. We believe we are justified in counting this assessment towards both EN6 and AC6 credits.

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