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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Vörösmarty, C. (Ed.)

    The household is an important locus of decision-making regarding food, energy, and water (FEW) consumption. Changes in household FEW consumption behaviors can lead to significant reductions in environmental impacts, but it can be difficult for consumers to compare the relative impacts of their consumption quantitatively, or to recognize the indirect impacts of their household consumption patterns. We describe two novel tools designed to address this problem: A hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) framework to translate household consumption of food, energy, and water into key environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use; and a novel software application calledHomeTrackerthat implements the framework by collecting household FEW data and providing environmental impact feedback to households. We explore the question:How can a life cycle assessment-based software application facilitate collection and translation of household consumption data to meaningful environmental impact metrics?A case study in Lake County, Illinois is presented to illustrate use of theHomeTrackerapplication. Output data describing environmental impacts attributable to household FEW consumption in the study area are shown in order to illustrate key features and trends observed in the case study population. The framework and its associated output data can be used to support experimental research at the household scale, allowing for examination of what users purchase and consume over an extended period of time as well as increased understanding of household behavior trends and environmental impacts, and as future work.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Social practice theory offers a multidisciplinary perspective on the relationship between infrastructure and wellbeing. One prominent model in practice theory framessystems of provisionas the rules, resources, and structures that enable the organization of social practices, encompassing both material and immaterial aspects of infrastructures. A second well-known model frames social practices in terms of their constituent elements: meanings, materials, and competences. Reconciling these two models, we argue that household capacity to respond to shifting systems of provision to maintain wellbeing is profoundly tied to the dynamics of privilege and inequity. To examine these dynamics, we propose a new analytical tool utilizing the Bourdieuian conceptualization of forms of capital, deepening the ability of social practice theory to address structural inequities by re-examining the question ofwhois able to access specific infrastructures. To illustrate this approach, we examine how households adapted to shifting systems of provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from 183 households in the Midwestern United States, we apply this tool to analyze adaptations to disruptions of multiple systems of provision, including work, school, food, and health, from February 2020 to August 2021. We highlight how household wellbeing during the pandemic has been impacted by forms of capital available to specific households, even as new social practices surrounding COVID-19 prevention became increasingly politicized. This research provides insight into both acute challenges and resilient social practices involving household consumption, indicating a need for policies that can address structural inequities across multiple systems of provision.

     
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  4. Background.

    U.S. households produce a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, indicating a potential to reduce their carbon footprints from changing food, energy, and water (FEW) consumption patterns. Behavioral change to FEW consumption is needed, but difficult to achieve. Interactive and engaging approaches like serious games could be a way to increase awareness of possible measures, leading to more sustainable behavior at a household level. This study looks into the experiences and effects of a digital game for homeowners with the potential to reduce FEW resource consumption impacts.

    Intervention.

    In this study, we developed and implemented a digital game to explore its potential to raise awareness of the consumption and conservation of FEW resources and the efficacy of conservation messages. This study aims to measure learning outcomes from game participation and to assess the suitability of the game for informing resource conservation actions.

    Methods.

    We tested a proof-of-concept of a digital four-player game, called HomeRUN, with 28 homeowners. The data collected include homeowners’ values and preferences with regard to FEW resources. The patterns of game actions are analyzed with an emphasis on the effectiveness of conservation messaging in informing household consumption behavior.

    Results.

    About 65% of the respondents agree that they gained a better understanding of the greenhouse gas emission impacts of FEW resource consumption after playing the game. Over 57% of the respondents agree that the game experience would influence their future consumption behavior, while a quarter of the respondents are unsure. Overall, we demonstrate the HomeRUN game has potential as a tool for informing conservation efforts at a household level.

     
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