WVU receives grant to study water efficiency

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05 February 2010

– MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The National Environmental Services Center (NESC) at West Virginia University (WVU), in partnership with the school’s College of Business and Economics (B&E), has received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a social marketing campaign to raise awareness about water-efficient products–including low-flow faucets, toilets and showerheads.

Many people may not take water efficiency into account when renovating or building a home. The objective of this grant is to understand the barriers that consumers face when purchasing water-efficient devices and then create compelling messages that will influence market demand. Saving water today ensures water for future generations.

In the grant’s first phase, B&E’s Paula Bone, Ph.D., a marketing professor at the college, will research the current use of water-efficient products–investigating manufacturers and surveying consumer opinion.

Conserving water is a hard sell; it is cheap and easily available. This partnership between the WVU’s College of B&E and NESC provides an excellent opportunity to apply current thinking in psychology and social marketing to an increasingly important environmental issue, says Bone.

NESC will use Bone’s research to develop messages for a social marketing campaign intended to change the purchasing behavior of a targeted audience. The organization also will publicize and support water-efficient programs and practices through a program titled Future Water using a Web site, listservs and magazines and newsletters.

Water is an under-valued resource, says Gerald Iwan, NESC director. Increasing knowledge about water-efficient products, as well as water-efficient programs and practices, helps to elevate the public’s appreciation of our nation’s water supplies. We believe that combining our expertise with that of WVU’s College of B&E will yield important results for the effort to conserve water.

NESC has more than 30 years of experience as an information clearinghouse for drinking water and wastewater issues. WVU’s B&E College is a fully accredited business school and is ranked among the top quartile of business school’s in the U.S., according to a 2006 U.S. News & World Report.

For more information about the project, visit www.nesc.wvu.edu/futurewater/.