Student Switch Off is a behaviour change campaign that uses small prizes and competition between student halls of residence to encourage students to undertake small energy-saving actions, such as switching off lights and computers or cooking with lids on pans. Founded by Dr Neil Jennings at the University of East Anglia (UEA), it ran for a pilot year at UEA in 2006-7. Through partnerships with Ben & Jerry’s, Powergen, and the National Union of Students amongst others, it subsequently expanded to 43 different universities by 2011-12. A key element of the campaign is to measure energy savings through meter readings and these show that, since its pilot year, Student Switch Off has helped to save almost 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and over £1.1m through reduced energy bills. This innovation history charts the rapid expansion of Student Switch Off, highlighting the key issues faced along the way.
Each case study is written up as an ‘Innovation History’, allowing participants to explain their own individual stories, with researcher reflections and insights inserted into the text.
Ro Randall – founder of Carbon Conversations – stated how the innovation history approach, and conceiving of Carbon Conversations as an ‘innovation’, had made her think about things in a new way. She says:
“Reading your draft has helped me reflect on the relationship between innovation/innovators and the networks of people and support that give them space to innovate. Innovation often gets seen as having an ’author’, rather than being a group or network product and although I was pivotal, Andy’s role was absolutely key. I could have innovated my socks off but without his technical expertise – from knowledge of the science and technology, through to his ability to manage the finances and website – little would have happened. Beyond that there has been a much larger network of people who have contributed to the project and perhaps don’t get recognised as they should. Maybe there are inevitable tensions between innovative projects and the environments that nurture them. Good reflective practice can certainly be helped by having people from the outside taking a look – they see different things, offer other frameworks and that can be really useful.”
We hope you enjoy our Innovation Histories, we will make them available here throughout 2012 as they are completed.