Sustainable Behavior:

Potential for True Impact

In the fall of 2020, we contributed to the 3rd edition of Coliving Insights: Impact and Sustainability in Coliving. This is a short and sweet version of that article in which you’ll find out why you should be paying attention to the opportunity of tenant engagement. 

"18% of a household’s energy use comes from heating shower water alone"


5 things you should know about engaging tenants in sustainability


1. There’s an opportunity to save 5-20% on energy bills. When building owners and operators look to make their buildings more sustainable, they tend to look at upgrading its physical features first. While this can be very effective, tenants should not be overlooked, as they account for ~50% of energy use of a building. Engaging tenants in your energy-saving goals is a good, budget friendly addition that can offer multiple benefits, such as improving tenant relationships and increasing the sense of community in the building. 


2. Research consistently shows that engagement projects almost always lead to energy savings. There are so many ways to engage tenants! From commitments to goal-setting, there are abundant opportunities to get your tenants engaged in saving energy. For instance, in the right setting, feedback can be particularly easy to introduce and effective - especially when it aligns well with your tenant characteristics and goals. 


3. Set yourself up for success by knowing your tenants. Do you know their general demographics, motivations and tendencies? From there, you can select the intervention with the best odds for success. The chosen interventions - whether it be an app, smart energy monitor, direct feedback device or any combination of solutions - should align with the characteristics of the group, the goals, and budget.


4. 18% of a household’s energy use comes from heating water for showering. By using tried and tested shower-nudging devices, hot water usage can be reduced by 15-20%. We’ve also found that participants in our studies with shower-water saving devices become more aware of their behavior in general - which could lead to them making more sustainable decisions in other areas of their lives. 


5. Sustainability in Coliving does not have to be expensive or difficult. Coliving has great potential for enhancing sustainable living by focusing on the behavior of residents. Sustainability in Coliving can focus around quick-wins at first: such as group goal-setting, or providing residents feedback on their energy consumption with some knowledge of how to change their behavior. 

Want to read the full article? 

If you’re curious about reading the full piece, head over to Coliving Insights, download the report and find us on page 60! For more information about our Resident Energy Behavior project, feel free to check out our project page here and get in touch with Anke at