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Open AccessArticle

How Exposure to ”Role Model” Projects Can Lead to Decisions for More Sustainable Infrastructure

Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Lowry Hall, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
Charles Edward Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, 200 Patton Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kannan Govindan
Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 130;
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 21 January 2016 / Accepted: 26 January 2016 / Published: 30 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How Better Decision-Making Helps to Improve Sustainability - Part II)
A role model, whether an individual or a project, can inspire similar performance in others. This research examines such a phenomenon during the design process for more sustainable physical infrastructure. In this empirical study, engineering professionals (n = 54) were randomly assigned either a modified version of the Envision rating system for sustainable infrastructure, which was changed to include details from an exemplary role model project, or the current version of Envision, with no role model. Professionals given the role model version of Envision achieved on average 34% more points (SD = 27) than the control group (p = 0.001). A positive role model project appears to lead engineering professionals to higher goals for sustainability performance in their design decisions. This finding, and the corresponding line of interdisciplinary research, can be used in decision-structuring interventions, which are a relatively low-cost approach to support greater sustainability in physical infrastructure development. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable infrastructure; rating systems; role models; spillover effect sustainable infrastructure; rating systems; role models; spillover effect
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Harris, N.; Shealy, T.; Klotz, L. How Exposure to ”Role Model” Projects Can Lead to Decisions for More Sustainable Infrastructure. Sustainability 2016, 8, 130.

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