Using media to instigate change


Many established homes (most Australian homes) perform quite poorly in terms of energy efficiency and other resource use. Home renovation is a key point at which sustainability could be improved as people have already decided to spend money on renovation (some $32b a year nationally). By and large, however, current approaches based on financial incentives and information to induce behaviour change are not working. In developing better communication strategies, we need to think of renovation not retrofit; social practices not behavioural change; and a range of media influences rather than top down messaging and information. Visual media are very important in the early stages of a renovation; in getting ideas and inspiration, as well as insight into how other people are approaching their renovations. Renovators respond to stories which are conveyed and shared by media of various types – ranging from watching renovation TV shows such as The Block to sharing stories and experiences via social media. Strategies to encourage low carbon home renovations as ‘the normal thing’ to do require an understanding of influencers both obvious (eg builders, magazines) but also the not so obvious (celebrities’ social media, on-line portals, blogs, online forums, Facebook groups).