In a few weeks, several Cool Choices staff will attend the annual Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) conference. This will be my ninth time attending the annual BECC conference and I look forward to this event every year because for me, BECC is reinforcing, challenging and inspirational.

A Focus on Behavior

Attending BECC always feels reinforcing because these are my people—the social scientists, local sustainability leaders and policy wonks who attend this event tend to share my obsession with human behavior. BECC attendees get excited talking about the messaging strategies that increase participation rates. People perk up when someone mentions social norms. I spent the first decades of my energy efficiency career surrounded by technology gurus, the people who marveled at variable-speed furnace fans and grimaced at occupant practices. BECC is different: the crowd here is obsessed with people—their practices as well as their attitudes and beliefs. It’s reinforcing to be surrounded by people who are as interested in the individual and cultural norms behind commuting trends as I am.

Typically there are also moments that challenge me. The conference draws experts from a variety of fields and inevitably I’ll hear a few perspectives that poke at my own assumptions about influencing sustainable practices. Honestly this is part of what I enjoy most: human behavior is complex and messy. One size does not fit all. If it were simple we would not need the BECC conference! Feeling challenged, wondering how to reconcile different insights…all of this keeps me a little off balance, which ensures I don’t become complacent about the ways we encourage sustainable practices at Cool Choices.

A Source of Inspiration

Most of all, though, BECC inspires me. One year it was an artist talking about how community-scale arts events engaged people in a dialogue about their aspirations for their community and its future, leading to grass-roots action on climate issues. Another time it was a co-panelist who had an amazing approach to human-centered infographics. While much of the conversation at BECC is about rigorous studies and the preponderance of evidence, there are also visionaries who get me excited about what could be, innovators who stretch my ideas about what is possible.

Ultimately, though, I’m inspired that hundreds of people—academics from various social sciences, program implementers, community activists and policy makers—come together every year to share their experiences, collaborating to make everyone’s efforts more effective. I feel lucky to be part of this amazing community and I look forward to all that I’ll learn this year.


The 2017 BECC conference takes place on October 15-18 in Sacramento, California. If you are planning to attend this year’s conference and would like to connect there, please contact us at

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